The Gospel According to an Artist

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because He has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Jesus and Isaiah

The gospel gives hope to an artist who has lost her voice in an art world that doesn't make space for the lives of the people she cares about. The gospel, after all, literally means good news. Jesus, the same Jesus that more than a billion people follow, clearly states his mission was to come and offer good news to those who are on the outside. In doing so, he left us a model of how to faithfully flip the script and turn the powers of this world upside down.

But often, as a contemporary artist, I find my attempt to establish a career at odds with my desire to see and care for my neighbors for who they are. The gospel, however, challenges and breaks down our self imposed financial limitations, and as it does, it liberates our creative vision.

The gospel tells us that we are not the aesthetic slaves of an economic system that oppresses those who live in poverty. We are not even the reluctant servants of this system. We are free to live and die fully in love. That's the gospel. The power structures of this world have been exposed by the love of the one who created the world. We have been called out. The voice of God has spoken: we are free.

The gospel opens a place in our creativity that manifests the love hidden inside of our spirit. It enters into us and reveals new paths. Therefore in the living power of God, we can say no to domination as a way of life. We can say no to revenge as a mindset. Instead, we can say yes to love and yes to forgiveness, because God, in the person of Jesus, has given us the spiritual blueprint.

We are free to make art that doesn't look or sound or move like anything else. After Jesus shares a parable or some other teaching that requires deep interpretation, he often says, "For those who have ears to hear, let them hear." He leaves an open space for us, a place of ultimate freedom, knowing that only in our true voice can we love God fully. Jesus' good news is waiting for us to approach it with faith, interpret it, and to explore what it feels like to enter into the creation of the Creator.

Jesus knew that humans are not the point of creation. This world is God's world, and when we take on the uncomfortable act of submitting our selves to the power of God, the limits of our tiny existence flood with God's wholeness and we experience ourselves as a part of God's work. This is love. This is good news.

When I think of how deeply a paid gig or the mere prospect of a grant influences my aesthetic intentions, I am humbled by the hustle. Like everyone else, I'm trying to eat and belong. But the subtle lie of a poverty mindset has convinced me that there is only so much creativity to go around and that I need to spend my capital, first in the direction of my career so that I can make money and sustain myself. No wonder I can't seem to "afford" to share any of "my" creativity with my neighbor. My understanding of the power of art and creativity has been narrowed down from the endless flow of the Creator to a tiny individualized egocentric illusion. I have separated myself from the community of life. I've cut myself off from from the Source.

But Jesus' teachings call us to walk a different creative path. Like finding one's voice, this path doesn't manifest overnight. It is not easy. But it is light. It is a path that believes that love is more powerful than any of the political oppression and injustice that we have known. It is a path that believes in the power of steadfast love and spiritual unity. It is a way that recognizes the unlimited freedom that opens within us when we love. The gospel tells us the truth; we are indeed free to create. We are free to transform and be transformed. We are free to be financially born again.

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