Those who know me well may think it’s funny that I would choose to write about the arts. I apparently free-styled too much in ballet as a child. I never made it past a year or two of piano lessons (as a five year old, I told my mom that I wasn’t “ready”). And although now there are many arts that I really appreciate, until recently if you asked me where I thought it ranked on a spiritual scale, I probably would have said pretty low.
However, creativity is an essential part of God’s character, and so as His image bearers, we should have a high regard for all creativity and beauty. Unfortunately, some in the Christian world have deemed many artistic endeavors as unimportant because they didn’t seem as “useful” as other Christian activities. As a result, many Christians have either left the arts alone or let the arts that we produce or support slip to less than excellent.
In ignoring the arts or producing art that is mediocre, we can lessen our impact. Franky Schaeffer says, “Any group that willingly or unconsciously sidesteps creativity and human expression gives up their effective role in the society in which they live. In Christian terms, their ability to be salt and light of that society is diminished.” Although direct outreach and evangelism have places of serious spiritual significance, books, movies, music, etc. have a heavy influence on culture and we can likewise have a powerful spiritual impact through such endeavors – especially if we do them well.
So – as someone who is not specifically involved in the creative arena – how can I really reflect this aspect of God’s character? First, the “arts” doesn’t simply refer to the high arts. As Schaeffer said, it also refers to any form of human expression – written, verbal, musical, etc. With that in mind, I really don’t have to look far to see how I can reflect God. I can mirror His interest in detail and beauty in the way that I order and decorate my home, write and verbally communicate creatively and free from the profane, teach my daughter to create things with her mind and hands expose her to good art and literature, create through growing a garden, etc.
I can positively impact my culture not only by the things that I produce, but also those that I support. We all constantly encounter things (music, photos, shows, movies, books, and so on) that call for our “appreciation”. I should avoid artistic expression that doesn’t fit the criteria of true beauty. (We are told to worship God in “the beauty of holiness” (1 Chron 16:29, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 96:9). If something is not holy, it is not truly beautiful.) I can also support those Christians who are committed to using their talents in artistic excellence, and not view their work as non-essential to the Christian cause.
Whatever skills God has given us (or not given us) and where ever He has called us to be, let’s better communicate to the world around us by reflecting our creative, diverse, and beautiful God with excellence!