The Importance of Art To Culture
I believe that there is something about the order of events in the Bible. Although the Bible was compiled and canonized by humans, it is nevertheless breathed on by God and put together by inspired individuals. At any rate, I find the order of events in the Bible interesting. Is it not a wonder that the first thing we know about God and His identity is that He is a creator (Gen. 1:1)? The first thing we know about God before love, before sacrifice, before resurrection, before healing, is that He is first and foremost a Creator. It doesn’t mean that those other items are less or more important, it is just a fact that if you were to read the Bible from the beginning, you would first discover the Creator God.
I also find it interesting that the first person that God gave the Holy Spirit was a creator. “Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and He has filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs…’” (Exodus 35:30-32) I find this interesting. I think the poignant question would be, “What does this mean?”
I believe that God is interested in imagination, creativity and the arts and we should be too.
The next great reformation will undoubtedly have a focus in the creative as God uses revivals to “revive” what has been lost and to be honest, the church has lost its place being the leading culture maker and shaper of the world and the Lord wants His church to take its rightful place.
There are a multitude of reasons on why you should care about imagination, creativity, and the arts. Here are some: 1) God cares about them, 2) It is part of the Imago Dei… the Image of God (He is a creator and so are we…whether we believe it or not), 3) They are incredibly influential in contemporary culture, 4) They will fill you in ways unimaginable.
Our contemporary society often sees value in what is tied to making or having money. But we as Christians know that the most important things in life have absolutely no monetary value… Relationships, Beliefs, Time… none of these are extrinsically valuable but they are priceless to the individual. The church has followed suit and adopted the same mindset the rest of our culture has in this arena but we are not called to mirror culture, we are called to lead and shape culture. How do we do this?
First, we have to accept the fact that imagination, creativity, and the arts require deeper thought than what we currently allot them. Anything worthwhile takes some investment. A legitimate understanding of the theology and philosophy behind imagination, creativity, and art is required even at a low level to actually engage our current culture.
Second, we need good artists in the church. If you want the church to be the leading culture maker and shaper in the world, you need the world’s best culture makers and shapers to be in the church. Sadly, the church is not winning this war… yet. We are losing because much of the arts world feels antagonistic toward the church and vice-versa. The arts world is a mission field… we need missionaries on the front lines who will go and bring Jesus to the artists. The arts are a bastion for the downtrodden of the world… the social misfits, the disenfranchised, and the poor… literally and spiritually. These are caring, wonderful, talented, influential and hurting individuals that need a Savior who will hold them in all their brokenness and mend their wounds through love and truth.
Third, we need to stop accepting mediocre art in the church and start demanding Godly excellence from the church. We have been addicted to seeing the saccharine goodness in films, music, dance, and all sorts of art forms that go under the genre of “Christian.” But Christianity is not a genre, it is a worldview… in reality there is no such thing as a “Christian” film or song or dance or style. There is only good art and bad art. Just because a work of art says the word Jesus or has a cross connected to it does not make it holy or good. We need to stop accepting bad art as good and start demanding higher quality process and product from believer-artists and from our churches.
Fourth, we need to imagine and create for ourselves. So much of life is avoiding pain. But all self-help books, Christian and secular, say that risk is a key to truly living. The greatest things in life are going to be risky and difficult. If we are made in the Imago Dei, then we need to use our gift of creativity and imagination. We should be creating the world of the future with Jesus at our side, coaching our every move.
I see Jesus looking at us and beckoning us to take the first leap. Will we trust Him and be willing to do something new? Will we be willing to sacrifice comfort? will we be able to accept nothing-but-the-best? Will we reach out to our arts communities and show them what true love looks like, and will we take the time to understand the deep things of God? Are we willing to take a leap of faith and usher in a revival like we have never seen? What are you waiting for? Just… Jump!