Postures and Progression of the Gospel: Reflections through Art and Race

During my sabbatical in 2020, my friend Robin (Klapheke) Jones excitedly asked me if I had any ideas stirring for the painting I now had time, space, and motivation to do. Her question and enthusiasm spurred me out of my laziness, and several months later, out came a four-piece series on the progression of the gospel inspired by Bill Tell’s teaching, as well as dance concepts from a close friend. As part of my process, I physically posed in each of these positions. For me, these hands—our hands, represented by my hands, Black hands, brown hands—beautifully depict our relationship with God and a physical reality of faith.

I painted the first one, Justification, in June of 2020. That was a time of much racial tension, injustice, and pain in our country. As I was painting, I noticed a parallel with my racial identity, one that connects deeply with the spiritual reality we all experience. Initially, when we experience the truths and realities of the gospel, saying yes to Christ, He breaks our chains. We don’t know what to do with such freedom! We are justified, but do we truly experience it? We can easily remain in positions of bondage.

With minorities, I grieve that all too often, unjustly, freedom is proclaimed, and maybe the chains are cut, but other obstacles line up to prevent true freedom. If the chains have been cut, then the door is still locked. If the door is ever opened, there’s a hateful mob blocking the doorway. Even one additional obstacle can prevent us bringing our full selves, and it surely prevents our nation experiencing the wholeness the gospel could bring to our whole community and culture if we all lived it out.

As we know and experience God more, learning to trust Him and believe His promises, we begin to open up (Sanctification)—but we may still get stuck in doubting our worth and value. We connect with God through prayer and other disciplines, but our posture toward Him is pleading, crying out for Him to do things for us, rather than resting and abiding as we lift requests up to Him and trust His good answers. As we continue to learn and grow, trusting God more, we experience transformation and our posture changes. In this third depiction (Transformation), we lift our hearts and hands, palms up, to God in worship and surrender. And finally (Adoption), as we embrace the truth and reality of God making us His very own, stepping into our identity as adopted, we extend our hands straight up in beautiful dependence.

I’m still growing to express my full self, to embrace my identity, to step outside of the chains and bondage of expectation from others in the sense of what is good, acceptable, or expected. I occasionally glimpse Adoption, but I look forward to living in that position constantly with my hands, my body, and my spirit. I hope as you see these images, you might feel this transformation in your own body, recognizing the areas of painful bondage you can surrender as Christ becomes more and more at home in your heart.

Picture of Korryn Shoge

Korryn Shoge

University of Central Florida Associate Campus Director
University of Central Florida Associate Campus Director

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