Why Art is not Enough
To use art isn’t enough…one must become consumed by the subject.
Writing, blogging, painting, singing, songwriting, speaking, acting are so much part of the living out of ones faith. One can express their life through seemly endless applications from social media to the tip of a brush. But to truly demonstrate what Jesus is calling us to we are not simply to express one’s religious views, but the gospel itself. If it is to be truly the gospel is to be lived and in that sense one is not simply acting on a subject of the artwork but rather consumed by it.
As Christians we know why a work of art has value. Why? First, because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator. The first sentence in the Bible declares God created.
Second, an art work has value as a creation because human beings are made in the image of God, and therefore we not only can love and feel emotion, but we also have the capacity to create. We are created and we can be creative, or to have creativity. When we create we fight destruction. When we create we can be like Jesus. We never find an animal, non-human, making a work of art. On the other hand, we never find people anywhere in the world or in any culture in the world who do not product art. Creativity is intrinsic to our humanness. Jesus himself was an artesian, a woodworker, a carpenter.
Three basic possibilities concerning the nature of a work of art. The first view is the relatively modern view of art for art’s sake. This is the notion that art is just there and that’s all there is to it. You can’t talk about a message in it, you can’t analyze it, it doesn’t say anything. This view is, I think, quite misguided. For one thing, no great artist functions on the level of art for art’s sake alone.
The second view is that art is only an embodiment of a message, a vehicle for the propagation of a particular message about the world or the artist or human beings or whatever. This view has been held by both Christians as well as non-Christians, the difference between the two versions being the nature of the message which the art embodies. But this view reduces the art to merely an intellectual statement and the work of art as a work of art disappears.
The third basic notion of the nature of art – the one I think is right, the one that produces great art and the possibility of great art – is that the artists make a work of art, and that then the body of his work reflects his world view. No one, for example, who understands Michelangelo or Leonardo can look at their work without understanding something of their respective worldviews. Nonetheless, these artists began by making works of art, and then their worldviews showed through the body of their work.
But this is not enough…
Did you know that there are scholar atheists who spend their whole lives studying iconographic of the Bible in some of the Universities in America. Can you imagine looking at the crowning miracle in all of life – Jesus Christ – the God Man your whole life and lost. So of us we think that by working with artwork – singing songs about Jesus or doing dramas or even speaking about him is the same as living for him.
You tell me? What’s the difference between scholar atheist and someone who sings the right songs, and listens to good messages but is not consumed but Christ.
The Work of Christ is not simply to be admired, enjoyed and hung on the back of some church wall but to be embodied!
You are his finger prints on a canvas of chaos! You are his workmanship created so that you might extend his canvas in your own little square inch of the piece of the painting that he put you in. So that if your color is red – be red like no one else can.
See there is this idea out there that there are some things that are spiritual and others that are secular – and that’s just really silly. What happens when we begin with this is this effort to Christianize everything to make it ok. Just make sure that Jesus is in the lyrics. But rather than dividing our lives into superficial categories, we need to see the redemptive possibilies that exist with demonstration of curiously inventive ways showing God’s beautiful, awe inspiring goodness.