The world has plenty of cynicism, and it has more than enough sentimentality. What it hungers for is hope – and Christians have been uniquely called to provide it. In this video, recorded at the 2015 Premier Digital Conference (and just a few hours after the Paris attacks), I contrast the work of three contemporary artists – Thomas Kinkade, Steve Cutts, and el Seed – to explore how Christian communicators can creatively share hope with the world through art, writing, speaking, and all kinds of media.
Three Artists, Three Messages
Artist 1: Thomas Kinkade
Thomas Kinkade died in 2012, but not before successfully marketing his prints around the world. Kinkade was clearly gifted, and he presented a vision of the world people wanted to buy: a world of cosy cottages with pretty gates, flowers in full bloom and softly-smoking chimneys; a world without crime or pain. You could say his message was Everything is beautiful! But did he create hope, or just sentimentality?
Artist 2: Steve Cutts
Steve Cutts is a London artist who sees the world very differently to Kinkade. He sees a world where we join the rat race each day, boarding trains to nowhere, while the light drains from our eyes. Like political cartoonists and other confronting artists throughout the ages, Steve Cutts has some important things to say about where society is heading. You could say his message is Everything is broken! But does he create hope, or just cynicism?
Artist 3: el Seed
el Seed is Tunisian-born French artist. He takes Arabic calligraphy and paints it on walls in tough and desolate places, creating what he calls caligraffiti. The piece above is on the wall of a daycare centre in a Cape Town shanty village. It says ‘It always seems impossible until it is done,’ a quote by Nelson Mandela. el Seed isn’t walking into the world’s dusty streets and saying Everything is beautiful! or Everything is broken! His message is It’s broken, but there is hope.
The Unique Power of Christian Hope
Picture: eL Seed, Facebook
There is a place for highlighting the beauty of the world, and there’s a time to call attention to its corruption. But in the video I suggest Christian communicators haven’t reached their full potential until they learn to do what el Seed does and offer hope. And Christian hope has a unique power all its own.
Christian Hope is Visionary
It doesn’t see things as they have been or as they are, but as they will be when God’s vision for the world is complete. So to create hope:
- Become immersed in God’s vision for the world
- Take the sin and brokenness of the present world seriously
- Speak a word of hope from the future into the present
Christian Hope is Practical
Christian hope may be visionary, but is most powerful when made practical. So to create hope:
- Don’t just rant and rave at the problem
- Show us how things could be different with Jesus in charge
- Give us steps to turn that vision into action
Christian Hope is Redemptive
Our God doesn’t just bring beauty into brokenness but turns brokenness into beauty by bringing new life out of death. So to create hope:
- Give your failures and broken dreams to God
- Let him redeem them into service to others
- Then vulnerably share your story with the world
- The Problem with Kitsch Jesus
- Article on el Seed and his work
- Resilient has a little more on God’s vision for the world
- Refugee Crisis: Five Things You Can Do Now is a good example of making hope practical
- Resurrection Year or A Journey Through Broken Dreams film on beauty emerging from brokenness
- The Power of Story (my PremDAC12 keynote resources)
- Being Heard in a Secular World (my PremDAC13 keynote)