The Red Side - Performance Art by BSR-12.

Performance art is art in which the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer’s body and a relationship between performer and audience.” So says the most quoted guru of our time, Wikipedia. Rather than static art, performance art does not focus on inanimate objects but rather on living, breathing subjects who become the art themselves (though in some cases robotics have been used).

Performance art takes the meaning of a piece of art off the page so to speak and into real life. It of course also means that once the performance is over the art is finished as well but for many performance art carries a longer impression than art on a canvass. What does this have to do with theology, or the gospel?

What if the gospel message could be, and was meant to be, translated off the page and onto the canvass of our lives. What would “performing the gospel” look like? One of the most influential missiologists of the 20th century, George R. Hunsberger, who is a main player in “The Gospel and Our Culture” network has given a very simple description of what performing the gospel means in the foreword of a book called “Storm Front.” Its a simple discreption but its packed with provocative truth;

We live in an ever-swirling storm

The coming reign of God, now entered in to our affairs in the person of Jesus, sets in motion the collision of systems of rule and authority. It is along such a storm front as this that the church finds itself called into being and implicated on the side of what God is still steadily and faithfully intending for the world, a world in which there is “more at work than the forces of evil.” And that is an encouraging thought.”

We live in a contest of allegiance

Decision. That is the crucial matter put before everyone we meet in the Gospels when they come face to face with Jesus. Not a decision about what might be in one’s rational self-interest. But a decision about what now must be done “with the time given to us.”

We live in a life and death communion

The ordinary path of life for Christ-followers is one of deep inner rootedness in the life and death of Jesus. It is the good news of God that we are welcomed into the dying and rising of Jesus, by which he faced the evil and defeated even the final enemy, death. That sharing in Christ is what carves out the shape of the calling, the mission, the sending of the church.”

We live at the intersection of powers

Subtle or not so subtle, direct or inderict, overt or covered with layers of pretense, the powers of our world represent profound patterns of resistance to the power of God, coming as it has in the form of a cross. Cross-bearing resistance comes in the form of pity, not vengence; mercy not violence; life-giving in the place of death-dealing.”

We live in a crucible of practices

Christian practices, churchly practices, are the implications of all of this for the life of the church. But not merely practices in the sense of organizational activities. Rather, radical, even subversive, practices are called for, practices that Jesus anticipates in what have been called the Beattitudes.”

Thoughts, criticisms, suggestions…