Why the Christian needs art

There is not likely a soul on this planet who would describe me as “artsy.” I’m a left-brain, analytic, ENTJ, former math & science nerd, who only because of God’s calling finds myself in the “humanities” side of the world doing ministry. Were it up to me I would probably be plotting navigation points on man’s first journey to Mars. But as it is, I’m a man of the Book, and my life revolves around words. But artsy? Not even close.

That aside, I am a fierce believer in the necessity of art, especially for the Christian. Our God is a creator (Genesis 1:1), an “Artist” with a capital A. And we, made in His image, are creators and consumers of art whether we recognize it or not. On a daily basis, we submit our souls to media of every type–paintings, sculpture, film, music, prose, and poetry. We judge everything that invades our senses, deciding without conscious consideration whether it is good or not. But even the “not” is art. It is created and gives witness to its creator.

If you step into…

my home you will find a variety of art, accumulated with a limited budget from those God sent along my path. Each piece says as much about my journey as it does about the journey of the individual artist. Each piece also says something about God. And there are even pieces created by me. Not great art, by any means, but art nonetheless. Several screenplays exist because I spoke them (so to speak) into existence. And there is even a painting. It is my hamfisted imitation of someone else (I don’t remember who). But it hangs in my bedroom, a testimony to creation.

Makoto Fujimura said, “Beauty is a gratuitous gift of the creator God; it finds its source and its purpose in God’s character. God, out of his gratuitous love, created a world he did not need because he is an artist.” (Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life, IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL, 2017).

It was precisely because of this “gratuitous gift” that my wife and I drove up the road yesterday to see the creations of a local artist. We had seen his work on the road a week before while we were on an extended hike. We weren’t looking for art, but art found us and spoke. And the whimsical message–for me, at least–gave glory to my Creator. For it was the manifestation of the insect that I battle every week for dominion over my yard that became the art. The “enemy” of all that is holy and living, the leaf-cutter ant, was exalted to become a plant stand. The irony was a bit “on the nose” but I could not resist.

So, why exactly does the Christian need art? Art forces us to look at the creation through a different lens. It challenges our perceptions and reminds us that everything can be seen another way. Now my left-brain logic will assert that even though we may see things another way, there is still only one right way. Of course. But art will always challenge our perceptions enough so that, if we are humble, we will invest the time necessary to evaluate if we indeed know the right way. And in doing this, we become more winsome, more open, more understanding. And art becomes a bridge to Truth.

What have you created? What truth have you shared?

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