Monet only had three colours – the same as any artist. Yet from them he produced shimmering, gorgeous paintings, beautifully observed, and dancing on the eye, no two alike, even though he deliberately painted some of them from the same viewpoint, at different times of day.
And not one looks like a Leonardo da Vinci.
Who used those same colours to produce subtle, groundbreaking paintings – none of which look like Turner. Whose paintings don’t look like Picasso’s, or Vermeer’s, or Jasper John’s.
Mozart had only twelve notes – the same as any composer. Yet from them he produced shimmering, gorgeous music, beautifully observed, and dancing on the ear, and none of them sounds like Strauss. Or Puccini. Or Ed Sheeran.
We have a dazzling, shimmering gospel, encased in a gorgeous library of books – poems, stories, logic, proverbs, law, love story and prophecy. We can speak of Christ as prophet, priest and king. We can talk of bring born again, justified, sanctified, adopted, dying with Christ, being raised with Christ, seated with Christ, filled with the Spirit.
So why does our preaching keep sounding the same?
One preacher sticks in my mind, because of the way he used to pronounce the word ‘gospel’. Gos-pel. Wherever it appeared in a sentence, it always had the same, slightly odd, emphasis to it. Gos-pel.
And he sticks in my mind, because what he did with the word, was what he did with the gospel itself. Whatever the text, whatever the genre, he always came back to explaining the gospel in exactly the same way. It’s as though Mozart only knew one tune, or Monet only knew how to paint one haystack.
He’s not unusual. People who’ve been brought up one grouping can only present the gospel in terms of rebelling against a king. A second group only speaks of idolatry.
What’s your default? Passing a book from hand to hand? A judge letting a prisoner go free, by paying his debt?
So, give yourself a challenge. Try explaining the gospel as if the person listening had already heard your best stories and illustrations.
I’m not saying we need another gospel – don’t mis-hear.
But sometimes we need to pronounce it differently.
Footnote – yes I know there are more colours than that (black and white both come in tubes, and you’d have a hard time mixing the rest consistently from primaries). And – yes, there are half-tones, and quarter-tones. And sometimes Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn sound very similar, and you can’t tell a Picasso from a Braque. I know that. Just allow me a rant.