“Christians . . . ought not to be threatened by fantasy and imagination. Great painting is not “photographic:” think of the Old Testament art commanded by God. There were blue pomegranates on the robes of the priest who went into the Holy of Holies. In nature there are no blue pomegranates. Christian artists do not need to be threatened by fantasy and imagination, for they have a basis for knowing the difference between them and the real world “out there.” The Christian is the really free person—he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” – Francis Schaeffer
I grew up in the church, surrounded by traditions and regulations on art, whether it was the disapproval of rock music, modern fashion, or the enjoyment of fantasy fiction. Now, I must admit, my family did not have such rigid views of art (for the most part). Yet, within the church, it was easy to conform to the archaic art of years past, believing it to be more “holy” than the modern expressions within music, church atmosphere, worship styles, film, and fashion.
Thankfully, God worked in my heart, inspiring creativity within each dream I had for the future. I began playing guitar, joined a band, and dreamed of working in the entertainment business.
When I was a freshman in college, a friend told me about this pastor/author named Erwin Raphael McManus. I’d never heard of the guy, but then again, he lived in Los Angeles and pastored a church that met in a nightclub…Probably not someone Baptist churches would invite to speak to their congregations. Erwin’s writing, his love for the artistic soul of humanity, and his willingness to view the journey with Jesus through the lens of human creativity captivated me. The more he shared from the teachings of Scripture about the way the human spirit is empowered to create, the more I realized: I’m created to create, just like my Father.
Unfortunately, Christians like conformity. To be fair, society as a whole likes conformity, Christian or not. We like fitting in and finding acceptance, rather than finding our own calling. The past 15 years, churches have been moving towards modern worship, progressive atmospheres, and pastors with tattoos (which I have nothing against any of those things). And yet, what’s kind of hilarious is that it seems like EVERY pastor of this generation dresses the same, talks the same, and acts the same. Congregations mimic the leaders. The modern worship songs seem to be the same four chords played in slightly different arrangement. Every church has the same growth techniques. It’s just a postmodern version of conformity.
Art and creativity are about bringing to life that which is conceived within the imagination. Copying the art of others around us is what they call “plagiarism”, not creativity.
Christianity has impacted art and its expressions throughout the centuries, so why have we abandoned such unique expressions in the 20th and 21st Centuries? I may be wrong, but I believe it comes down to one very scary reality:
We’ve increasingly abandoned the soul of humanity, industrializing everything, including human beings. We’re more like machines in a cog rather than the creative force behind the future. When we eliminate God from society, we are essentially eliminating the belief in the soul, opting to become drones instead of creatives in the image of the Grand Creator.
If you follow Jesus, do you create and ingest art that reminds you of beauty and eternity, or are you simply conforming to society, both within and without the walls of the church?
If you don’t follow Jesus and the only Christian art you’ve seen is pathetic, I’m sorry…That’s not the reflection of God. What if you learned that the image of the Creator is within you? What if Jesus inspires the human spirit to live beyond mediocrity? What if we’re designed to create the future, reflections of beauty, and expressions of hope?
We are all artists, whether it is creating a safe place for others to find healing, living in the ministry God calls YOU to live, and imagining a future full of grand possibilities.
We are designed in the image of our Creator. Isn’t it time we began to follow His example?