Soul Graffiti

Posted: July 18, 2010 in Book Excerpts
Tags: , , ,

I watched a documentary years ago, and it was about the art of graffiti.

I call graffiti “art” because in its essence the person who draws on concrete with cans of spray paint is creating something that is visually pleasing.

I remind you, I love hip hop, the truest forms of it that is, and I loved everything about it in the 80’s and 90’s.

The bright colored clothes, the electronically induced music, and of course the break dancing all screamed vibrant and look at me, look at what’s going down under the radar.

That period of time left an impression on me, as it did with a lot of other people here in America.

For that matter, I’m sure with every generation they remember everything as if it were a novelty. My parents talk about getting a Pepsi for 15 cents, buying a whole pack of bubble gum for fewer than 25 cents. The baby boomer generation probably remembers Woodstock and all that it represented like it happened yesterday. For better or worse I remember the Love revolution too, because I listened to Jimi Hendrix in college, and Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. I don’t endorse all of their music, but what I notice is that to this day, we are being influenced by these people and the movements they were apart of to this day. Jimi Hendrix is dead, and so is the lead singer for Led Zeppelin. Both died due to some drug overdose, or something related to drugs. Jimi Hendrix is not remembered for dying due to the fact that he choked on his on vomit. Most people remember him for his riff heavy rock songs that are in commercials and movies everywhere. Rock stars today pay tribute to him by doing covers of his more famous songs. The ones that really followed his music remember him because he played with an attitude that said I don’t care, an attitude that said I’m going to do this one thing as well as I can because I love doing it. From what I know Jimi Hendrix, along with a lot of the other rock stars in the 60’s and 70’s wanted to change things politically and socially. They wanted to leave a mark on history, and most importantly in the hearts of those who were asking the same tough questions. I listened to the hip hop of the 80’s and 90’s asking the same questions people have asked for centuries. Will the poor actually get a chance to get their piece of pie? Is the government really a democracy or a two party system? Does pharaoh really care about the people who are breaking their backs to build up an empire? At my current position in life, I’ve made it a priority to make people who actually have a tight relationship with God my example, but not my savior. There are brothers who are mature in the faith that I look up to, not because they are perfect saints, but because they walk the talk they talk. These men I speak of have left an impression on me, they’ve impacted my life in small and large ways which I don’t enough space here to describe in words alone. I don’t stop there when I think of example, examples that leave an imprint.

John 13:15 reads:
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Then our minds are blown when Jesus yells at a dead man and tells him to get up. He calls him by name, and simply tells him to take those grave clothes. It’s miraculous that he’s telling this man to get up, after he has been dead for at least a couple days, its also super great that Jesus expects us to do the same thing. He says in more than one book of the gospel that we are going to do more than he did. In Acts chapter 20 around verse 9 Paul is preaching one of his long home run hitters when a young man falls from the balcony and dies. Now I’m not sure if Paul put him to sleep and he fell and then died on impact or if he had something else weird happen. All I know is the word says he was dead as dead can be. Paul proceeded to dive on the man and pray for him. He effectively through faith in Christ and dragged the young man out from the realm of the dead and into the realm of the living. Paul did it because he was commanded to do it. He did it because Jesus left an imprint on him when he was blinded in the desert, and heard his voice. Jesus’ passion was transferred from his own heart to Paul’s heart. Paul wasn’t with Jesus as the disciples were, but somehow this resonated with Paul to the point that it changed his mission outlook right away. You would think that all it took was Jesus to blind him, but I’m sure Jesus’ soul graffiti was all over the place in Jerusalem. Little pieces of Jesus were left all over the landscape; it wasn’t on the physical landscape though. Soul graffiti has no spray can that gives it color, but it does have an artist. The artist has all the color and vibrancy needed to paint pretty pictures that make a mark on history and more importantly on people who are asking all the questions that really scream the human race’s need for change. Soul graffiti is just like the graffiti we see on trains, sidewalks, walls, and places and things that are either abandoned or have that appearance. The artist put it there so you would remember him or her. The artwork is usually large, and written in bright colors like orange, sky blue and other colors that have two words in the name. Whenever I see graffiti, I take note in the artist’s style, the color choice, and also their tag name. Their tag name is a code for their real identity, or a nick name they’ve acquired over time because their skills in “tagging” have been great. Some graffiti artists are interested in quality as much as quantity and they tag any wall or abandoned thing they see, to be recognized and to also leave an impression on the beholder. In one city you can easily run into one person’s artwork 3 or 4 times. They’ve obviously made an impression on you if you’ve noticed by the third time that someone’s name has been written on building walls in 3 different parts of town. Soul graffiti is just like this and even more potent I contend. Soul graffiti is a vandalism of the heart, and it can end up defacing it and rearranging what it looks like, making a slab of concrete look like a masterpiece meant for that exact purpose. Christians need to look at themselves as graffiti artists sometimes, wondering what little act of kindness will leave an impression that will stick with them for a lifetime. My soul graffiti moment was when a bunch of old guys were on my campus at UVA, which is a very liberal atmosphere, passing out little bibles with the Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament wrapped up in one neat little package. I took that thing everywhere I went, and read the bible even though I was still doing all the forsaken things my flesh was in love with. It left an imprint on me when that little old guy was passing out bibles to people he didn’t know, and for a purpose he could see no end in. Little did he know that he was changing the landscape at UVA with one simple obedient act. That man was an instrumental part in changing my life, along with a long line of others who were patient, kind, loving and spoke the truth even though there was a possibility I would reject it. My heart got graffiti all over when those people poured their heart and soul into showing me who Christ was.

The real graffiti artists, I mean the ones who have a passion and a message to share with the people in their community and the people they share the city with , want to share with you their hope for the future. They want to show you what their dreams look like in Technicolor. They want to impart to people on a grand scale their vision. Graffiti as an art form has taken off in most urban areas, and you can even find graffiti in art galleries where abstract or non traditional art forms are recognized. Graffiti is becoming more popular, and is reaching more audiences that usually wouldn’t consider looking at it as art. Originally this was the intent of artists, hence their usage of large canvases to tag a name, or draw a fallen civil rights hero on a wall people pass on their way to work regularly. Our souls were meant to do the same thing. No mission is too big for the Christian who has the mustard seed frame of mind. Jesus has left an impression on our hearts and minds, and its due time we start doing that to others. In the early days of the church, it was growing at rapid rates, to the point where the Roman leaders became afraid of their growth and began to persecute them. There is no penalty in our land of great freedom for our forthrightness and truth that hails Jesus as our King and Savior. In my mind and my heart, I am going to start walking around with a can of Jesus. This spray can of Jesus has the ability to coat over any heart, to wash over the mind of the unbelieving, and to penetrate the deep dark crevices our eyes can’t see. Long after we’ve unleashed this soul graffiti, the effects are long lasting and are on display for others to see. With large graffiti projects sometimes it takes 5 or 10 people to get the job done. This is how I see our soul graffiti working in today’s world. It took many people to bare their soul, and to share with me their vision of the gospel before it took root in my heart. Soul graffiti is much more than evangelizing and sharing passions and gifts. Soul graffiti is making a lasting mark and impression on a person or group of peoples that will be embedded in someone’s memory for a long time. My soul graffiti is blue and black with shades of orange and bright pink to offset it. My soul is bold, strong and confident, with a splashes of compassion that overtake the masterpiece God made originally with his own two hands. Our soul graffiti is an imitation of a previous masterpiece, and this time God allows us to throw our personal flair on it. Your soul goes on for eternity, and I believe that God gave us our own barcode, our own stamp which is unique to the way we do things down to the way we cross our t’s. Even more awesome is the fact that your soul can have impressions on the soul of others simply because God made it resonate at a certain frequency, making it more likely to leave that lasting impression on the person you helped out of a jam. The homeless man you lent 10 dollars to, the person you let out of their parking space even though you were late for your next destination. People are starting to notice this soul graffiti that’s being applied all over the place. In the end, truly what they are going to see are the letter J-E-S-U-S go up on the building across the street. These random acts of love and kindness, the energy and time we push out from our souls are going to leave lasting effects on the landscape.

Luke 10:30-37 reads
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The importance of this story Jesus told us was to show us that even the neighbor whom the Jews despised in those days were worthy of your loving energy. The Samaritan an enemy to most Jews of the time stopped to help the man others Jews wouldn’t. After it was all said and done, what do you think that Samaritan thought about Jews? He probably thought they aren’t all bad after all; there are those out there that care about me. The same can be said for us Christians. Are you going to be the one Christian that changes someone else’s mind? Your mark will be made on their life, and also in the kingdom, for the Father is pleased when we make sacrifices of any worth. Through whatever means necessary, in the name of Jesus make sure you leave your Soul Graffiti somewhere or with someone before you leave this earth. God Bless.

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