Art fosters compassion. This comes as no surprise upon admiring theology as well as admiring the creatives themselves and their makings. Cultivating beauty showcases the hope of Jesus. In a world broken and hurting, bruised by that first sin in the garden and every act of sin that came after that, this hope is needed all the more. There are wars and famine, and the suffering and hungry are among the common crowds every day. Though as the world grows darker, the light of Christ and His new creation shines brighter.
Art communicates this and extends the arms of the gospel.
A Letter To Creatives
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
- The Words of Jesus Matthew 5:14-16
What if the reality of our making, as painters, potters, writers, or musicians, was portrayed in this very verse. What if our creations are interwoven with messages of hope that communicate truth to a broken world. This message is for anyone, as we are all gifted with creative talent in some way, shape, or form. Among the younger generation, there seems to be an awakening to creating itself, as well as creating with godly purpose. This message is to encourage and disciple those who are willing to take their art a step further on a spiritual level. One may be gifted in writing. They can use that skill to artistically and eloquently communicate the gospel and God’s loving character. One may be gifted in painting. They can use that skill to portray a scene of God’s kindness. What a gift it is that our Creator gave us gifts that we can extend to others for the sake of the great commission. He tasks us with a huge mission, but gives us many ways to join Him on that mission.
A Haven For The Hurting Heart, A Balm For The Broken World
There seems to be an underlying assumption that art does not withhold theological depth. Many understand that art carries great depth and that artists are prone to be deep thinkers, but they miss the eternal value. By gaining this perspective and understanding that there is more to creating than only the beauty that lies upon this earth, artists can begin to lean into the reality that their creations can foster empathy and compassion and help balm a broken world.
art creates a haven for the hurting heart. Makato Fujimura stated, “True faith in that darkness can lead to making - a kind of making that can only be done by “under-standing” and not “over-standing”. In that flow, beauty can lead to peace, lasting peace, not simply by desiring for it, but by creating it. Art, as part of Faith, can be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Consider the Pevensie children, as C.S. Lewis portrayed, in the English countryside that led to the wardrobe, that led to the magical world of Narnia. In the midst of that wonder, war was occuring, but that very beauty was the spiritual, physical, and emotional protection for those children. The Charlotte Academy of Music wrote, “If there is a single thread that connects music, art, and theater, then that thread is the art of storytelling. Every art form acts as a window into the life of others. By nurturing art and storytelling, we can better understand each other – thus, helping to create more empathy. Creating and sharing arts creates a storytelling experience. When we learn empathy through the act of telling stories, whether through painting, sculpture, or another art medium, it helps us better understand the story. Artists can show empathy as they depict the experience of their subject through their art form.” The created world, and the creations within the creative world, sing empathy and compassion. They sing Jesus. They sing His Body at work. This leads to the healing and tending to of one's mind, soul, and spirit, in the midst of chaos.
The Creative Heart Of The Father
Ever since the creation of the world, there was creating. God Himself set the example when He made something nobody could surpass; humans, animals, plants, seasons, galaxies, stars, and so much more. Ever since, God’s creative heart has been set within His people. Throughout the Bible and into history beyond, God’s people have been cultivating beauty. For example, this is seen in the brilliant creation of the tabernacle, David’s beautiful music and poetry, the Mosaic law, and so much more. Since then, God’s people have still been creating. In the modern day, there seems to be a re-awakening to this wonderful privilege of creating for God’s glory. The diverse array of cultures on this planet seem to recognize that at the very least, creating, whether Holy or secular, holds value. Each culture, painting the earth, unknowingly works together to portray mankind as beautiful.
Vibrance + Abundance
It is clear that as God created, mankind created. Some may even say, mankind was created to create. This is evident all throughout scripture as God’s people make, develop, and cultivate. A key example is Exodus 35:35 which states, “He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.” The body of Christ is the far opposite of monochromatic. It is rich, colorful, vibrant, and abundant with many members contributing in different ways, all with different gifts and passions. It is truly incredible and the most wonderful representation of the Kingdom of God.
Seen, Known, Loved
Perhaps art and literature aid in attempting to resolve complex issues or nullify their effects. In a crisis where compassion is most needed, perhaps art and literature can fulfill that role. Say, using art and literature can provide compassion for the hurting. Perhaps a potential plan would be empowering writers and creatives to reach the lost using their giftings, and through their giftings, make an effort to help each individual involved in a given crisis feel seen, known, and loved. These could be photographs to remind them of God’s beauty and life’s sweetness, paintings that serve as reminders of His faithfulness, healing conversations over pottery and clay shaping, prose or poetry that share Christ’s sweet aroma, or music that leads them to spirit and truth. The opportunities are endless. This can be communicated by mouth, by writing a book, or by setting the example in our very own lives and in our very own creations. Creating holds great theological weight and that it can contribute to God’s ultimate mission.
Brothers and sisters, it is up to us. Will we use our giftings, passions, and talents to communicate truth, goodness, and beauty to this broken world?
Images: A Blueridge Autumn on 35mm film
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