When the whole world cries for our attention, the book of Daniel tells a different story

Words and art by Malik Dieleman

To Christian creatives, art is a form of worship, prophecy, and storytelling.

God uses our creations to inspire faith, expose truth, display beauty, and preach the gospel. God wants to be intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. Ask yourself: Is He intimately involved in my art? 

One way I regularly create artwork is in response to Bible passages I study. After reading over a text and sometimes discussing it in a group, I revisit the ideas and themes from an artistic lens. I reflect on and depict the characters, themes, and messages in the text like a visual sermon.

Art and storytelling contextualize and adds new layers of understanding to ideas. The colours of a painting, the face in a photograph, the instruments in a song, the texture of a sculpture—these are all tangible, sensory elements that speak to us often more clearly and directly than essays or arguments.

In fact, Jesus did this very thing.

Jesus painted pictures using parables and metaphors to better explain His message, proving that seeing brings us to believing.

Earlier this year I attended a virtual workshop on the book of Daniel. We learned how the Israelites were faithful to God during their exile in Babylon.

On the last day of the workshop, I received a vision: a drawing of a seemingly endless worldly kingdom with one narrow path through it, leading to the Kingdom of God.

Kingdoms by Malik Dieleman. 2020. Marker and digital painting.

It was only a glimpse of an image, but it was so strong I dropped what I was doing and right away began drawing. I sketched out building on top of building, adding more and more elements of this human-made world that calls for our attention.

Our eyes constantly wander to different things. Our attention is valuable, particularly in an ever-growing digital world.

The stories in the book of Daniel remind us the Kingdom of God is the only kingdom worth seeking, and God is the only one worth giving our attention to.

Which Kingdom do you choose?

Malik is a portrait photographer and artist in Toronto.