All Christians were created to be creators. We don’t have to read far into the Bible to see that God Himself is an artist at work creating beautiful things. When God created us, he gave each one of us a personal invitation to be contributors to his already existing art exhibit.
God’s greatest masterpiece is us and our most important contributions are the lives we live. People are both works of art and artists at work. Interwoven into the creation narrative, we see a constant reminder of God’s creative works being referred to as good. We must not miss the significance of this point. Everything God himself created was indeed good, including us.
Let’s be honest, there are several churches that aren’t always open to artistic expression and if you are immersed in the world of art, you may be wondering how can I use my artistic abilities in a Christian context or why is it important for Christians to make or embrace art?
Artist and writer, Makoto Fujimura put it this way, “The church needs the arts, not so there will be opportunities for more artists in churches, but for the sake of the Gospel.”
What do the arts have to do with the Gospel?
God invites all of us to creatively lead people to discover more about Him, the original creator. To create is to reflect the image of God. We can spread the Gospel through the use of our creative gifts. When people create it is beautiful because it presents the Gospel to people in a tangible way.
Any creative work you do to help bring hope and healing to others is a way of spreading the message of the Gospel. When we create we can give people a glimpse of the goodness that God saw in us when he created us.
What does the Bible say about artistic expression?
The Bible has a lot to say about artistic expressions. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician, photographer, sculptor, dancer etc. The Bible has examples of how we can artistically live for the glory of God.
In Exodus 31 the Bible talks about a man named Bezalel that was filled with the spirit of God to pursue his artistic ability. It states:
31“The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.
Exodus 31 is an example of God working through His people to create amazing things. Bezalel was not a prophet or the most high priest, yet God still used him as an artist. At the time, the Israelite’s artistic abilities were not glorifying God because they used them to build idols for themselves. Through Bezalel, God gave us a clear example of how to live artistically for him.
Bezalel, a craftsman, was commanded by God to use his artistic abilities to build the Tabernacle and the Ark of the covenant. God also made it very clear that he didn’t want Bezalel to do it alone. He anointed Oholiab to be his assistant and through this we see a community of artists working together for the glory of God.
God constructed his personal design team and they designed everything down to the beautifully stitched garments and the tabernacle itself. If you’re like me when I’m reading Exodus, I have the tendency to skim over or read past lists or instructions.
I have found that I missed the point completely! In the instructions is where I found God’s personal aesthetic. He was specific about everything when it came down to measurements, colors and even the specific wood that was to be used.
God places a strong emphasis on everything he commanded the craftsmen to do because he truly values creative works. Not only did God provide his craftsmen with the skills, he also provided them with the materials and opportunities to express their skills.
What does art have to do with community?
God used art to bring people together. The whole community of Israel contributed in the creative work that God commanded. If they had skills they used them, if they had materials they brought them and everybody came together for a central purpose—to glorify God. In the same way, we can use our creative works to bring people together.
In 1 Chronicles 15:16, David brought the Levites together through the art of music. He brought musicians and singers together to make a joyful sound to the Lord. In today’s context, I think about the power and importance of our worship teams.
Our worship teams use their musical talents to help us collectively worship as a community of believers. Even in a secular context, just think about the relationships that form from an incredible concert. There is music, good vibes and a community of people that are all connected by their love of the arts.
The writers, storytellers and poets also have a role in bringing people together. Paul himself used the art of storytelling to spread the Gospel among all nations. The scribes collaborated to transcribe and preserve scripture. Because of the work of writers and transcribers, we now have many translations of the Bible. God uses all aspects of art to bring people together and to communicate the Gospel.
How can I use my art to serve others?
By using your gifts to show His beauty and truth to the world, you will glorify God and serve others in the process. We can serve others by inviting them to partake in the beauty that God works through us to create. I don’t know about you but I know of a lot of people that have been moved by the creative work of others.
Maybe a poem or song speaks to you in your time of suffering or maybe you looked at some painting in an art gallery and reflected on its deeper meaning. Whatever the case may be, God uses art.
In a way, all art can go beyond the artist. You never know how your creative works can meet the needs of others. God has equipped us with a diversity of gifts that can all be used in some way to impact the world around us.
If God has called you to pursue any form of art, pursue it! God has designed us to be creative beings and we each have a key to unlock the gifts he freely gives us. It is up to each one of us to accept the invitation.