Sunday, February 15, 2004

"How do you intend to spread your message across?" asked Jac in between bites of her Japanese food. We were talking about my part in fulfilling the great commission as a Christian artist. Though I admit I'm not as vocal as most Christians are pictured out to be, I believe that in this day and age evangelism doesn't always have to include spoken words. How? Consider the following:
In writing. Well duh, Einstein. There are lots of ways in this category alone but so far I'm moving in only two major areas - blogs and message boards. Blogs are one of those things that I consider a God-send. Some have labeled it a form of narcissism or "attention whoring" but I beg to differ. Everyone's got a story to tell and web logs afford them the privilege of telling everyone how their day went or what went through their mind. What's important is that you show the relevance God has over the minute details of one's life without resorting to the usual cliché. Message boards are an entirely different matter since you get to discuss, debate, squash, slice, and dice your challenger's premise. This is a lot harder than it sounds whenever the issues of theology and philosophy are raised. But the good thing here is that you'll come out a stronger person than when you first entered the arena. For this reason I suggest you check out the Realm of Thought forum in PinoyExchange.com.

In art. This is a bit tricky if I have to get the message across without resorting to religious themes. Besides, nobody pays attention to religious art these days unless it's controversial. So how does one go about it? Relevance. A successful Christian cartoonist has to know who his or her audience are and how to deliver the message. It might surprise you that some widely syndicated comic strips were created by Christian cartoonists like Johnny Hart (creator of B.C. & co-creator Wizard of Id), Hank Ketcham (creator of Dennis the Menace), and Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts) among others. The last example may or may not surprise you but it's true. Even Walt Disney, founder of the Magic Kingdom testified to the power of prayer in his life. Personally, I think it's a far greater sin for a Christian not to have a sense of humor. And the way to go about it is to do the best I can with all the available resources I have, gather enough audience and send the message (the Bible's chock-full of themes for hospitality, respect for the environment, raising a family, friendship, etc.).

In friendships. This is by far the best part of all and it's also the most precarious. Because apart from the other ways I have outlined here, friendships are open to scrutiny by those who are closest to me. What they see, know, and hear and vice-versa could either deliver the message loud and clear or obscure it even more. There has to be a balance of sensitivity to both God's leading and the friend's present condition. Though there is the pressing need to inform one has to wait for the proper way and timing if the message is to be received at all. Besides they would immediately know if one bears more importance to the delivery of the message rather than the recipient himself. It's the smallest things you do that spells the difference in the life of one friend. Leo Buscaglia explains, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
This is by no means a complete list but they're the major ones. The bottom line in everything I and other Christians should be doing, much more than the words that come out of our mouths is to show the relevance of Christ in our lives. How much change are we talking about? Talk is cheap and we can go on and on with our Alleluiahs and Amens but unless they see that what we do precedes what we preach, then where's the sense in talking? St. Francis of Assisi succinctly sums everything up when he admonishes us to "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

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