If you've not read Mike's book Messy Spirituality, you've missed out on something amazing and genuinely life-changing. Mike had a way of cutting through the garbage to get to the heart of the matter of what it means to have and live faith. These are just two quotes I found this morning as I was looking at some of the stuff he wrote. He died a few years ago, and the world is so much poorer for the loss.
I post these here because I think they have particular relevance to the issue of how an artist who is a Christian (note I didn't say the phrase "Christian artist") can and perhaps should approach his or her creative life.
For the Christian, there is no distinction between the sacred and secular. Everything a Christian does is an expression of his faith.He does not make choices based on the religious significance of the alternative. As a Christian he makes the choice that is a logical extension of the values he has derived from his faith…
What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down? What happened to the categorysmashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous? What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear,who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever He went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?
I’m ready for Christianity that “ruins”my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and …well…dangerous. Yes, I want to be “dangerous” to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered “dangerous” by our predictable and monotonous culture.
Predictability and faith cannot coexist.What characterized Jesus and His disciples was unpredictability. Jesus was always surprising the disciples by eating at the wrong houses (those of sinners), hanging around the wrong people (tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, lepers), and healing people on the wrong day (the Sabbath). There was no Day Timer, no strategic plan, no mission statement; there was only the eager anticipation of the present moment. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to be the same as they were.His truth should be the same truth that they had spent centuries taming. But truth is unpredictable.When Jesus is present, everyone is uncomfortable yet mysteriously glad at the same time. People do not like the surprises—even church people—and they don’t want to be uncomfortable. They want a nice, tame Jesus.