Sandra Godde is the Founder and Director of “Excelsia Dance” based in Brisbane, Australia. “Excelsia Dance” is comprised of a Dance School and a Dance Company that seeks to bring heaven to earth and to become a prophetic voice to the nations.
I The Challenge
II A Call to Action
III The Prophetic Task
IV Strategies for War: A Battle Plan
V Barriers to Overcome as Artists who seek God’s Glory
VI The Final Battle for the Arts
I The Challenge
Where is Christ’s voice in the arts and culture? Who is bringing the Word of the Lord to this generation? Where are the Christian artists, visionaries, film-makers, musicians, actors, dancers, and television producers?
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matt 5:13, see also Mark 9:50). Beloved, it is time to know the majesty, the sovereignty, the creativity and the power of our awesome God.
We are in great need of leaders who have a vision for the kingdom of God, a vision that inspires the creation of images and artistic works that will lead people toward Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14, see also verse 15,16). The level of peace, joy, compassion, or justice in our world depends very much on whether God’s people are showing it to the world. All of the arts have tremendous subliminal power to affect cultures and shape history.
The church has, for the most part, underestimated and misunderstood the importance of the arts as a medium for the Spirit of God to usher in his kingdom. It is God’s ultimate purpose to bring all kingdoms (even the performing arts arena) under his rulership. Scripture tells us “You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Heb 2:8). And God promises us that he will reign over all things in the future: “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11: 15b).
Artistic expression is a part of life. Art in all its forms is pervasive and an essential element of our environment. The works of significant artists are powerful and influential. They often guide and instruct the culture in which they are birthed. Artistic works can weaken or destroy the civilisation in which they were created.
The arts can enlarge or trivialise the imagination. Therefore the arts are not neutral; they impact us, and we need to be aware of what they are doing. Art inescapably affects us. Even unworthy forms are always making their impact on society. So what are we, as believers, going to do about this fact? Our place as Christians in this world is meant to be an active one that affects our generation.
We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of people on a global level. We are being bombarded on every front, especially through the media, with images and ideas that are anti-God. Have you ever asked yourself why Harry Potter and endless movies about the supernatural are allowed to take such a stronghold? Has the false theology of religiosity deterred the artist and the visionary from the midst of contemporary Christian culture, leaving big holes for the enemy to stake his territory? Have we made the mistake of defining ourselves only through negatives? What do we stand for? Are we providing a true creative alternative to the culture of our day?
II. A Call to Action
God has called us to redefine the enemies’ boundaries. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b). We are to be on the offensive in establishing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Song, dance, drama and the visual arts are capable of being some of the greatest offensive weapons we have in the body of Christ. In a highly audiovisual generation that is becoming increasingly multimedia oriented in its language, God desires to pour out his divine creativity to captivate the imaginations of this generation. He needs willing and devoted vessels to do so. Worshipping warriors are required for the job. Prophetic evangelism is the way of the future.
We have a responsibility to participate in the affairs of humanity in a positive way, to the glory of our Father. The world should be aware of our presence in the earth (Matt 5: 16) and reap benefits from our very existence as Christ’s ambassadors on earth. The promise to Abraham was that he would become a great and mighty nation and in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen 18:18).
So we must ask ourselves, how are we serving our generation and leading the way to life and godliness through Jesus Christ? We must understand that there is a spiritual element to all human affairs and history. When God’s people are apathetic and do not intercede or stand up for what is right, evil is allowed to gain control of a society.
As Christians we are to be concerned about the fundamental issues of life and the moral and physical condition of our society. What was going on in the spiritual realm during the tragic events of September 11, 2001? What was God saying in the aftermath when many stopped to listen? What is the Lord saying today – to you, your family, your community, and your nation? Beloved, we need to know something of the heart of God regarding these issues if we seek to be relevant to those around us.
III The Prophetic Task
The prophetic task of the arts is to break the silence and speak the truth. It is to let the world know that Christ is alive and he is not silent. So, what does God require of us? Micah 6:8 tells us “…. to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”. By our obedience we can help establish justice. By our boldness and our devotion to Christ we can unveil injustice and oppression and expose social, political and religious evils.
We can preach repentance to win people back into right relationships with God, and with one another. We can speak of his endless love and mercy. The prophetic task also involves energising God’s people by offering them God’s version of reality: His perspective is the ultimate reality.
We can only know this by His Spirit and through prayer and the study of His Word. We can show God’s possibilities through faith; offer God’s hope in hopeless situations; and encourage people to walk in new levels of obedience and abundant life. By following the ways of God there is indeed the possibility of real justice, love, acceptance, forgiveness and healing. There is a great need to restore God’s people to fullness of life and implant a living hope within them that will withstand all the storms of this life.
The means of mass communication is expanding and what is transmitted through the air waves is vying for your attention. We need to continually pray that God would raise up an army of creative artists and visionaries to lead the way back to the Lord and to conquer and outwit the enemy in his plan to steal the hearts and minds of this generation. We have a mandate to be the voice of God and speak his truth to our own generation. Our message must embody what God is doing now and proclaim what God is saying to this generation. His love endures forever and His character is utterly consistent but He is also creative and unpredictable in the way He reveals Himself. We need to be constantly in prayer to know the heart and mind of God and to be able to know and implement His strategies.
The arts can indeed be on the front-line in global evangelism, winning hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. The enemy of our souls understands the importance of creativity and uses it to compel mankind to rebel against God. Are we going to allow millions of young people to fall under the spell of the Dark Prince? How can we prevent this? We need a vision of the infinitely, superior, awesome Creator who sings a much sweeter and deeper and purer song to captivate our hearts and our souls.
Beloved, has not God promised his children power to transform their society by calling into question the world’s ideas and philosophies (Rom 12:2)? We have been given spiritual weaponry to bring down every thought and idea that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. We need a vision of the awesome, loveliness of Christ; the earth shattering power of a holy God; and the universal power of the cross of calvary. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov 29: 18).
The eternal plan of God is the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth (Eph 1 :9-10). In the times to come, creativity and boldness will exemplify the front-line in the battle for mankind. And it will be the people who know their God that shall be strong and do great exploits to the glory of God (Daniel 11 :32b). The reward of the harvest will not be for those that sleep or doubt or criticise but for those who turn to God with a glowing faith and allow Him to be all in all.
IV Strategies for War: A Battle Plan
Our objective is to take the gospel to all people throughout the world and to make disciples of all nations. We must constantly refocus our attention to make sure we are on track. We are to win people to Christ and help them become obedient to all that God has commanded. Battles are won when we concentrate our efforts rather than dissipate our energies in too many directions. So seek God for your place in His plan and then be careful to obey all that He shows you. Remember that God has a body of believers and we are all to play a significant part in His overall plan.
Security involves knowing about your enemy and having continual protection against him. It also means having a final line of defence past which the enemy cannot penetrate. For us, this is the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. I believe there are very specific powers and principalities that have controlled the performing arts arena for a long time, and we need to identify what these are and advance forward to conquer these ruling authorities and dislodge them from the high places of power.
We can’t afford to waste time and energy fighting the wrong enemy, for example, criticizing and competing with one another. It’s time to know the real enemy and expose him, for our fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the spiritual realm (Eph 6:12).
V Barriers to Overcome as Artists who seek God’s Glory
The following ideas are taken from Scott MacLeod’s book entitled Snakes in the Lobby in which he documents a vision the Lord revealed to him regarding the state of the Christian Music Industry and the powers that were seeking to weaken their witness to the world. I believe they apply equally to the whole performing arts arena. Let’s now look at the enemies of our soul with the purpose of identifying and uprooting that which is holding us back from being all that God intended for us to be as artists. In order to reflect the glory of our Father we need to be cleansed, purified, and yielded to God so we can mirror His eternal nature.
Scott MacLeod’s vision entailed a lobby full of Christian artists talking and networking with each other and also showed a plethora of snakes which represented different powers or spirits that were present, drawing people away from a pure devotion to Christ.
The largest snake was SELF PROMOTION. This snake inspired his victims with a hunger to be bigger and bigger. His influence seemed to be ubiquitous. This could be otherwise stated as SELF INTEREST, an excessive longing to be known and recognised by others. It is the main barrier between us and God’s kingdom. It is the striving to establish our own kingdom instead of building God’s kingdom. I believe that to overcome this very deep, magnetic pull that we all struggle with, requires a very deep and real knowledge of God’s love for us personally. When we understand who he is and how infinitely superior he is to us, we can rest in his love for it is more than sufficient for us, and we are content to be hid in the beloved, and then we concentrate fully on building his kingdom, having been fully convinced of his worthiness and greatness. Our own need is met in him.
The second snake to appear was LUST. This was the charmer, the chameleon, changing colours and appearance according to the desires of those under its power. This snake had a hypnotic quality, drawing in its victims by deceptive flattery with the promise of gaining attention and power for themselves by drawing upon his power. Again, this snake appeals to the self-conceit in all of us and must be resisted by reckoning ourselves dead to self and self interest.
The next two snakes were intertwined with each other and they were PRIDE and INSECURITY. These spirits are characteristically found together and cause their victims to vacillate between the two.
One minute they are puffed up with pride and self importance and the next they are wallowing around in the dust with a woeful self-image. Both extremes are ungodly and lack humility. These spirits of pride and insecurity bring misery to those ensnared by them and unfortunately it is hard to break loose from them because pride won’t allow the victim to admit any kind of weakness, insecurity, or feeling of failure. Humility and contriteness of heart is the key to deliverance from these strongholds. Humbling yourself before Almighty God will allow you to receive a healthy self-image based on God’s Word and a reverential fear and respect for The Lord of Hosts.
The next snake to appear was THE FEAR OF PEOPLE. This spirit caused its victims to only be concerned about who was who and how they were being perceived by others. It is a very nervous and agitated spirit that ensnares the one it holds in its power. It is a spirit of bondage that leads to death as the fear of man prevents us from rightly fearing God. It often causes its victims to be paralysed with fear. The remedy to the fear of man is to fear God – to have a revelation of the holiness of God that causes you to reverence him.
On the roof of the lobby was yet another snake called JEALOUSY. This is the spirit of envy that causes its victim to bum up inside with fury and covetousness. It attacks the high places because it wants these high places for itself. It spurs one on with a competitive spirit which is contrary to the spirit of Christ.
There were other smaller snakes hovering around the periphery of the room. They were bitterness, criticism, unforgiveness, self-pity, and self-righteousness. All these spirits cause spiritual blindness and make us helpless and vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. This vision was revealed to show us how we all unknowingly can fall under the powers of the Great Serpent.
The most respectable snake to appear was the SPIRIT OF RELIGION. This snake had a thirst for power and control and included many of the other qualities of pride, insecurity, lust, jealously, self-promotion, fear of man etc. They were all hidden in this big white snake. It is the spirit of self-righteousness and religious pride, an insidious and deceptive power that creeps into the church from time to time. Unchecked this spirit will lead to a spirit of murder. It causes people to do evil or tolerate it, and all along believe they are doing right and even doing God’s service.
Later the SPIRIT OF DEATH made an appearance and caused its victims to be overcome with despair and hopelessness. It causes people to give up, to lose faith, and can result in suicide or other self-destructive behaviour. It can only be overcome with the blood of Jesus and his resurrection power.
Now, we are all probably familiar with these spirits because they have sought to overcome us all at various times. God, in His mercy, reveals these things to us that we might understand and know the poverty of our own spirits and turn to him with utter dependence and reverence. Our gracious Lord reveals these things in our own hearts first, so we can uncover all that is contrary to faith and walk in his light which is the truth that will set us free. God’s conviction comes so as we can choose him and be free from our sin, our self-life, and this world. Being cleansed by his blood and appropriating the power of the cross delivers us from all this wickedness and anti-God sentiments that try to control us.
Humility is something we are required to cultivate. Don’t ask God to humble you – humble yourself under His mighty hand. Humility leads to grace and grace leads to real love and compassion for others who are still spiritually blind. The true light of God’s piercing Holy Spirit renders all other powers inoperative. These snakes are not afraid of you when you are hiding in your own darkness and deception but when you confess the sin in your heart and turn from it, God’s holy presence takes over possession of your soul and sin cannot survive in that environment. Then, you are equipped and prepared to face the outside enemies.
Serpents don’t engage with you in battle when they see you are properly clothed in the armour of God. They are scared of the blood of Jesus and the Word of God spoken with faith. Your faith and fearlessness is terror to them because they know of their condemnation by the righteous judge.
Therefore, to walk in the authority needed to resist evil, one must be fully surrendered to God.
Let love and truth conquer you first before you venture out to conquer spiritual territory for the cause of Christ. You cannot do it on your own. You cannot do it without Him. Learn to allow God to live in you and make his abode in you. Learn to love as the Father loves. Can you love your enemies yet? Can you bless those who curse you? Can you forgive those who have offended you? Are you careful to preserve the bonds of fellowship within the body of Christ? Don’t attempt to do the work of God without the power of God. Let Christ have his way deep in your soul, transforming your character into His likeness, and equipping you with power from on high.
VI The Final Battle for the Arts
The present reality is that the prince of darkness is operating like the Pied Piper in the performing arts realm. He is the power behind a large portion of the music and video industry seeking to shape people’s perception of reality according to his anti-God sentiments and his hatred for the saints of God. There are many ensnared by the hypnotic trance of this prince that was once the covering worship angel of God. But now Lucifer has become Satan and his perverted gifts have brought him down to earth with a fury. His goal is to obliterate anything precious to Almighty God who has become his arch enemy.
Many follow God’s enemy, singing the songs and doing the dances of Babylon. The ways of the world are opposite to the ways of God. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you (1 John 2:15). Even many of the sons and daughters of God have chased after the creativity of the world and are now under the curse of the prince of the power of the air. They have become the tail and not the head. They have stolen glory for themselves and not given glory to God. They have used their gifts for their own gain, worshipping and serving worldly things like prestige, popularity, money, music and dance. They have coveted the praises of people instead of the approval of God. They have had divided hearts. They have left their first love. And God is grieved.
God is looking for worshippers in spirit and truth. His eyes roam the whole earth looking for hearts that are perfect toward him. The Pied Piper is hungry to keep his spiritual territory because he knows the tremendous power of music and the arts.
Beloved, the Lord is calling us to “come out of her”. The Lord is calling His artists to come out of Babylon, “the ways of this world”, and tap into the infinite, creativity of the true and living God.
The Lord is calling all those who have ears to hear to stand before the presence of the Living God, and drink in his revelation and wisdom and inspiration to take the Word of the Lord and feed it to the people, lest they perish under the spell of the Dark Prince. God is looking for people to be his voice. Are you willing? I believe we have to understand what it means to fear God, to walk in his wisdom, to hear his voice, and to speak it boldly and without fear.
The Holy Spirit is wanting to inspire his people with songs and dances of deliverance, healing, and comfort. When we tap into the inspiration that comes from heaven through prayer, our creative works bring life, and connect people spirit to spirit. People can then taste and see that the Lord is good.
All of creation groans for the sons and daughters of God to arise and take their proper authority in the earth by allowing the Lordship of Christ to rule their lives and take over their wills. True worship involves all of our beings and all of our faculties. It is a matter of Lordship – unashamedly declaring Christ as Lord of all. We are transformed as we worship. The Holy Spirit of God brings genuine love in our hearts for others and a sense of community and harmony with one another.
When we seek God for our creativity and inspiration, he charges us with new energy; when we wait upon the Lord, he renews our strength and causes us to rise up on the wings of an eagle. The song and movement of praise and rejoicing in heaven is contagious. There is no fear, no self-consciousness, no inhibitions or bondage. Praise frees us.
Spiritual strongholds are demolished, walls of hostility and division fall, resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness cannot breathe in the atmosphere of heaven and praise. God restores our soul. We begin to laugh and dance and sing like carefree children again. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor 3:17).
God is calling forth an army of worshipping warriors who have first conquered the battle in their own hearts and unequivocally given the reigns of their lives to Christ and are ready and willing to follow the Master’s bidding. Soldiers must be obedient. They must be trained, disciplined, and ready to follow commands. The call comes forward from heaven “Let my people go” so they might worship me in spirit and truth.
We must disentangle ourselves from this world, from self, and from sin and be wholly aligned with the purposes of the Most High God. Then a powerful and unified army of holy warriors will emerge all over this earth to cover it with the Word of God and the good news of the gospel. Then he will Come! Christ will return. But not before his gospel is spread all over the earth.
Music and art are primary ways of communicating within our culture. Art is a language that transcends barriers of age, religion, sex, politics, etc., and reaches to the heart. It is a language that uses images, symbols, colour and sound to evoke universal responses from our psyche. We cannot afford to dismiss this means of communication. Our enemy certainly has not.
The anointed arts are one of the most powerful evangelism tools the Lord has given us. May his artists, filled with the inspiration of heaven, the power of the Spirit, and the glory of God resting in their characters, carry the message of the gospel and the presence of our Lord to every corner of this earth. Who will stand and volunteer for the job?
Reference: MacLeod, Scott. 1998. Snakes in ihe Lobby. Morning Star Publications, Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
© Sandra Godde, 2002.
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© Renewal Journal #19: Church (2002, 2012) www.renewaljournal.com
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