I had an epiphany the other day that I believe has the power to change America. In fact, I think it’s such a powerful truth that if we truly understood its implications, the ripple effects would blast out over the entire planet, rocking the nations and impacting future generations for an indefinite sum of years.
So. . . you ready for it?
God made dirt.
Can you believe it? I almost couldn’t.
Because when we look at Christian subculture in America, it seems we hold the belief that God only made the Bible. Likewise, we seem to believe that Christians should not create or do anything that doesn’t have some direct correlation to the Bible, or going to church, or “accepting Jesus.”
But the truth is that God made dirt. And he didn’t make dirt so that it would somehow communicate some truth about the Bible. God made dirt to be dirt. Because dirt is important all by itself. It’s beautiful, in its own way. Not to mention central to many physical functions of the universe.
When a Christian makes music that doesn’t contain the name of Jesus, or writes a story with a non-Christian character who does not convert to Christianity, or shoots a film that has nothing to do with the Bible, just remind yourself that God made dirt to be dirt, and that there’s nothing profane or ignoble about it.
We shouldn’t try to re-package dirt and sell it as a “burning bush.”
We should just let dirt be dirt, and let the burning bush be the burning bush. Because both were designed for unique purposes.
We should not try to make art into a sermon. They are fundamentally different, just as dirt and the burning bush are fundamentally different.
There are good reasons for both sermons and art to exist. To think otherwise is to claim God didn’t make dirt and call it “good.” (Genesis 1)
Part of the reason why we Christians have had a difficult time re-directing the self-destructive Hollywood entertainment business toward meaningful artistic expressions of truth is that we have tried to pervert art into something it never should have been.
For years, we have allowed the errant belief that art is something lesser, something embarrassing or impure, to push us toward trying to make art function in more “noble” ways.
Many of us have persecuted those Christian brothers and sisters who make plain art, and have tried to force them to make art that is only a thinly veiled sermon.
But what happens when art is forced into being a sermon is that we just end up creating Christian propaganda, and the general population sees through it. We’re trying to turn God’s dirt into the burning bush, and both God and the secular population shake their heads at our ignorance.
Secular culture’s response to Christian propaganda is always, “Alright, I guess I need to ignore Christian art, because Christians can’t respect me enough to avoid using propaganda to try to force me to believe like them.”
If we truly believe the Christian message is life-changingly powerful, we don’t need to use propagandist tactics to artificially inflate its impact. If we use propaganda to proclaim the Christian message, our tactics are no better than Hitler’s.
Our job is not to convert people. That’s God’s work. What we’re called to do is love and respect our fellow brothers and sisters. You’re not loving or respecting people by shoving propaganda down their throats. You’re similarly not loving or respecting them when you claim they sin by making art that doesn’t somehow connect with the Bible.
Just remember: God made dirt.
We make art.
Let both be what they were meant to be.
(Disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be misconstrued as intended to downplay the importance of the work of evangelism, which is extremely important and beautiful work. All I’m criticizing is a particular tactic that is both tasteless and unsupported by Scripture.)