Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

If John Mark were a movie director, every film would be like The Bourne Identity or The Dark Knight: action-packed, fast paced, and brimming with hidden significance in every single scene. Matthew and Luke would delve into Jesus' childhood with all the enthusiasm of a Freudian psychological purist, and John the Apostle would introduce his volume with a stirring theological narrative, but Mark is different. To open his biography, Mark dropped his readers directly into the preaching ministry of the legendary John the Baptist. And from that point on Mark puts it into gear, hits the gas, and never looks back as he takes his readers through a stirring insider look (via his mentor, St. Simon Peter) at the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Not bad for a 1st century Jewish kid from Roman-occupied Jerusalem. In the end, Mark doesn't disappoint as he presents us with the news of Jesus' resurrection and leaves it as a cliff hanger--letting it fall to us to sort out the implications. He tells the story of Jesus and makes it interesting.

Is There Christian Eloquence?
According to John Piper, "eloquence is valuable only when it serves to magnify Christ, not us." Mark displays that for us in his gospel but the vast swathe of Christian movies, music, and books do not. When Dr. Piper gave that quote, it was during the 2008 Desiring God Conference, and it was directed towards pastors and their preaching. But you should take this to heart if you are in a band, shoot indie documentaries, write novels and short stories in your spare time, craft supple verses of poetry, or do stand up comedy in bars. If you sing, you should take a page out of the book of Dustin Kensrue, the Christian lead singer of Thrice, whose video I have embedded up top; if you write, you should imitate masters like John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress) and Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy) who served Jesus through the eloquent use of written words; if you do stand-up in bars or speak in public, please do so with all the passion and cleverness of a St. John Chrysostem. If Mark gives us, as Christians, an example with his sudden beginnings, cliff-hanger endings, and rapid narrative (the Greek word euthys, "immediately" occurs 40-something times in Mark and only a handful of times in the rest of the New Testament), then that example is to be eloquent, gripping, entertaining, and interesting in the way we talk about the truth of our Messiah's teaching and atoning sacrifice. Do not just create; create art. Make what you say memorable, or don't say it at all. Instead of putting out something half-baked, work and work until what you put out is sure to cut to the heart of your audience.

A Voice In the Wilderness
When we at The Voice were looking for a name, we ran through several ideas before Dave Winter nailed one down for us. For a little while, we were close to naming this blog Over the Edge or maybe Tribe & Nation until Dave said "I like 'the voice,' - the moment I read it, my mind went straight to Isaiah 40:3." The moment I checked the verse in Isaiah, my mind was made up. "Voices crying in the wilderness," I thought, "that's exactly what I hope we become." On the same note, all of us who read or contribute to The Voice should seek to become voices in the wilderness--voices which speak up and command attention; voices which call to the surrounding culture on all frequencies and in all media platforms; voices which speak with the conviction of a people who have seen the Messiah and heard Him speak with the divine voice, "Come, let us reason together, though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). If you are a Bible believing Christian and you have read Mark's gospel, you are obligated to follow his example and walk in his footsteps. You are meant to speak the truth with eloquence. Be a voice in the wilderness.

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