Using Graffiti to Spread the Gospel | Opinion
In the art world, graffiti divides opinions. Some consider it a form of modern urban art that transforms dull, ugly surfaces into bright and sometimes beautiful images. Others see it as wanton vandalism of public property. But what if the “tag” is the name of Jesus and the words, rather than obscenities, are Bible verses?
By all means
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I made myself all things, that I might save some by any means. For some, “any way possible” is a justification for illegal acts, which have included, over the years and across nations, the smuggling of Bibles into countries where they are illegal and meetings in unauthorized underground churches. by the state. In the context of the rest of this passage, however, Paul is clear that he is not addressing methods of evangelism, but his own personal rights as an apostle. He begins in chapter 8 by teaching the church in Corinth that although they are free to eat meat that has been offered to idols, they should abstain if it might cause a brother weaker in their faith to stumble. .
Graffiti, like street preaching, reaches people who would normally never cross the threshold of a church
Chapter 9 is a continuation of this theme, where Paul states that while it would be his right to be supported in his ministry, he and Barnabas choose to work so that the gospel will not be hindered by suggestions that they are financially motivated. He goes on to suggest that he is also willing to limit his freedoms in many other ways, such as participating in Jewish religious life to win Jews to the faith, living as if he were not subject to religious laws to win the Gentiles to the faith or become weak to reach the weak. This passage is therefore more of a challenge for those who oppose changes in their service format than an instruction to be reached for spray paint.
A new discussion
That said, graffiti, like street preaching, reaches people who would normally never cross the threshold of a church. And the verses and messages daubed on lock gates and canal bridges around Wolverhampton and Birmingham have recently spurred many discussions with locals hanging out there with their cans of beer. Should we despise any opportunity to turn people’s minds and hearts to God?
I would love to hear testimonies of people who came to Christ through a graffiti message, but I wonder if there are many others for whom the “writing on the wall” brings discredit to the Church ? Because graffiti is, without a doubt, a criminal offence. In England and Wales, it is liable to an unlimited fine; in Scotland, that can result in six months in jail – enough to make most adults think twice about embarking on a new artistic career.
The Gospel Graffiti Crew is a team of 15 artists from eight different countries who identify approved locations for legal graffiti art to communicate the gospel message. Led by Fasm, who have been spray painting since the early 1990s, they believe graffiti art is a powerful medium that can be used to reach people for Christ. To do this, they painted the name of Jesus, words such as “Truth” or “Glorify”, images of Jesus and other images that they believe can resonate in the local community. If the goal of most graffiti artists is to achieve notoriety by proliferating their “tag”, these guys seek to make the name of Jesus visible throughout the world.
We can all be brought to question our own witness
Strictly speaking, of course, it is not real graffiti, because it is not illicit. But if you feel called to join them in this ministry, the site legal-walls.net lists around 200 legal graffiti spots in the UK. However, check the approval of the local authority before starting work! And perhaps our churches could also offer suitable surfaces for this work?
Most graffiti, however, is not wholesome, and some is downright obscene or profane. This has been the case for millennia. The Alexamenos graffito is a piece of Roman graffiti that pokes fun at a Christian called Alexamenos; it dates from around AD200. The nature of most graffiti should not, however, make this a no-go area for Christians. Christ came to redeem what had been spoiled by sin. There is a nice story on the album webpage biblical graffiti by ApologetiX. Even before their lead singer and lyricist, J Jackson, became a committed Christian, he was bothered by the dirty graffiti in his school toilets. He began to “sanctify” the walls by writing Bible verses alongside the offensive graffiti. By his own admission, he didn’t really know the verse numbers, so he just made them up!
So if graffiti divides the art world, gospel graffiti is almost certain to divide Christian opinion. And maybe that’s a good thing. We may not agree with them, but we can all come to question our own witness. As God’s people, we have been commissioned to bring his message of hope and salvation to a world in need. We may not doodle it on the walls, but are there creative ways we can play our part in spreading the name of Jesus?