On Thursdays this year, I'll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers. I'm
certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement
in this art and want to share with anyone who's also trying to find
their way as a writer. These short posts will come from books,
articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people. Check back
each week or subscribe for new posts. Please introduce yourself in the
comments--I'd love to meet you and hear about your thoughts on writing.
[Disclaimer: This is a huge topic that I am skimming the surface of right now. For the purpose of this essay, I am thinking of writing when I talk about "art."]
If you are a follower of Christ and you are also an artist, the art that you do, whether overtly or not, is Christian art. When I was a college freshman still living in my black and white world, I felt bowled over by heresy when my Christian professors started throwing around the phrase, "All truth is God's truth." And yet in time I saw the wisdom in that statement. All art, no matter who created it, has an element of imago dei in it, because every person is created in the image of God.
But what differentiates Christian art from secular art? Should the sole purpose of our art be to preach, evangelize, or disciple? And why does Christian art sometimes seem inferior to secular art?
Christian art has the aroma of Christ about it. Just as we can blindly identify the fragrance of a rose, the art of a Christ follower will have the essence of the eternal, an underlying hope in the almost, but not yet.
Sometimes we don't know the exact purpose of our art, we only know that we are being obedient. In Walking on Water, Madeline L'Engle puts it this way: "The artist, like Mary, is free to say No. When a shoddy novel is published the writer is rejecting the obedient response, taking the easy way out. But when the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand" (p. 22).
Creating Christian art is about trusting that God may be prompting us to something beyond ourselves and we may never know how He plans to use it. It could even be purely for His own pleasure and nothing else.
God gave very detailed instructions for the construction and decoration of His Tabernacle that some might consider to be extravagant. What did it matter that the clothing of the priests be embroidered with gold, blue, purple and scarlet thread (Exodus 39)? But those who had the joy of creating this art were the ones who were willing to listen and had enough courage to be obedient to the work God was calling them to do.
So why does it seem like Christan art is sometimes inferior to secular art? Is it possible that the Christian is not listening well or not willing to take risks? Or perhaps they're focusing more on the art than on God?
Sometimes I wonder if God surrounded us with trees so that we wouldn't forget a few simple lessons in life: 1) stay rooted, 2) keep growing, and 3) bear fruit.
As we create, we're to stay rooted in Christ, not our art. When we face criticism or self-doubt, being rooted in Him will keep us anchored. Our branches stretch high and wide, growing daily as we reach our roots into more of Him, listening for His voice and prompting. And the fruit that we produce as a result of listening and walking in the Spirit will reflect the type of tree that we are--one that is rooted in Christ and devoted entirely to Him.
The result is that anything that we create is an echo of the One we are getting our nourishment, strength and motivation from. Our art is already Christian when it is a natural outpouring of our love for Christ, whether directly or indirectly.
Do you ever feel like Christian art is inferior to secular art? Why do you think that is?
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Labels: Spiritual Lessons, Thursday Thoughts for Writers, writing