Contemporary Christian Art

In the presence at GiddensIn the Presence of My Enemy, Acrylic, Sara Joseph

Contemporary Christian Art available for sale at Giddens Gallery, Grapevine, Texas.

Contemporary Christian Art: Psalm 23

"Contemporary Christian art" is a tag I often use to separate my art from secular artwork. It helps to carve a micro niche for my own art to be viewed as distinctly different.

I begin the creative process with a verse, concept, or principle from the Bible, not to illustrate it precisely, but as something to keep in my spirit when I pick up a brush and face a blank canvas. If the final artwork ends up literally illustrating the verse, although gratifying at first, it almost always leaves me restless. I sense there is much I am missing.

As I create contemporary Christian art, I would prefer if my explorations wander more into the unknown, even while working with the known. Linking God's words to personal experiences, symbols, color choices.... is one way I step into the unknown. It is not often that I succeed in that objective, despite my best efforts!

Abstraction in themes, context and symbolism intrigues me. God uses symbolism and lavish pictorial imagery in the Bible. His words undergird my explorations in art, regardless of the medium—whether clay, paint, or mixed media.

In the Presence of My Enemy, an acrylic painting on canvas, is one such example.

Contemporary Christian Art: Psalm 23

David’s Psalm 23 was in my spirit as I began this painting in a challenging season of my life.  Like every Christian before me, I learned quickly that my struggles only drew me closer to Jesus, stretching my faith in ways I had not experienced before.

The power of taking communion by acknowledging the complete work of the cross, although familiar to me, became extremely precious during this season.

What a price was paid for me on the cross, and not just for me, but for anyone who will believe!

In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood.
This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”1Co 11:25

As I began to paint, I wanted to capture the calm and peace that communion brings to a believer!

Jesus paid it all—for me and for you! And now He has prepared a table for us—the communion table.

When I take the bread and remember His broken body, I am also reminded that, by faith, I can receive every promise in the Bible reversing the curse on my own physical body. Anxiety, fear, lack or any sort, sickness, disease, hopelessness …. any force that could trouble my body or mind no longer has power over me!

Every attack to challenge that truth can be resisted. He will help me overcome, if I abide in Him and trust His word to me.

I have experienced that help many times, and for that I am so very grateful!

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over... Psalm 23:5

The cup, spilling over with wine—the wine of the Holy Spirit, the wine of the new covenant ratified by the blood of Jesus, leads and guides me into all truth.

Words are insufficient to describe the power of His blood that saved me from certain death and bought me LIFE, like I have never known it!

His blood covers every aspect of my ordinary existence in this sin cursed world, snatching me repeatedly from death and irretrievable loss. I am satisfied, anticipating a future that is always far better than my past, which will culminate in an eternity spent in heaven with Him.

Too good to be true? It is, and it would seem difficult to believe, if I had not already experienced much that by any standards, is difficult to believe! It is all true—I've lived a little bit of it, and am hungry for more!

In the presence, demonsIn the Presence of the Enemy, Detail, Sara Joseph

But the aspect about Psalm 23 that has become most meaningful to me is verse five.

"You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies."

My awareness of the battle between good and evil has become heightened. I've never actually seen demons or angels, although I am certain they exist because the Bible says so. This depiction is merely from my imagination.

Jesus meant every word when He talked about the "thief"—a real enemy, who will spare nothing to attempt to steal from us, then kill and destroy us! I no longer harbor any illusions about his evil, destructive objective.

Such thoughts would once have instilled such fear in me. But not anymore. Psalm 23 assures me that my enemy only appears to be terrifying, but he is nothing more than a defeated foe.

The victory Jesus won is mine to enjoy, yet not without a fierce battle! I am learning to enforce it more in my own personal journey.

 submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 
James 4:7

The woman seated at the table is intensely aware of the presence of the enemy. Her physical senses are in a turmoil, seeing the fangs, feeling the hatred, sensing the demonic desire to annihilate….. Yet communion reminds her of the powerlessness of the threat.

There remains a definite space around her which the enemy cannot penetrate. That stark contrast of such rage against the peace that surrounds her in the painting was what I hoped to express.

She sits removed, focussed on her communion with the King of Kings at the table He has set for her. It is not just any table, but the table of covenant, promising her the finest fare, and much much more.

He will cover her with His protection, His mercy, His strength, His provision—everything that she will ever need.

It does not matter, therefore, if the enemy rages beyond.  He cannot cause any lasting harm.

He may win a few battles but the war has already been won! 

Contemporary Christian Art: Psalm 23

The movement of brushstrokes sweeping across this large canvas, help depict the forcefulness of the attack against the seemingly feeble response in return.

How can a helpless woman withstand such demonic attacks? By steadfastly partaking of the bread and the wine and trusting in the power of a covenant keeping God. Since the bread is symbolic of the word of God and the wine the Holy Spirit, a steady diet of the Spirit anointed word in her life will keep her protected.

This Contemporary Christian Art is a work in contrasts—war and peace, the enemy and the unseen presence of Jesus, the promises of a Faithful God and the threats of a feckless enemy, destruction versus promises of good…..

Perhaps you can see even more in this work by experiencing it in faith with your emotions more than merely your sight. 

For we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)