How we position our hearts and minds for serving through creativity and expression is ultimately about worship. It can be the difference between shaping us into Joyful Worshipers freed by the grace of God or begrudging task doers enslaved to an audience or critic. For your sake and for our sake as the body of Christ, we need a unified approach to creative collaboration in order to lead each other towards our prize in Christ Jesus. Here are some helpful tuths that we can learn from scripture that will help us work together to tell God’s story.
All Good Things Come from God.
Any good gift we have comes from God (James 1:17), we may be really good at what we do, and maybe even work really hard to be good at it, but even the ability to work hard comes from our gracious Father (Philippians 3). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have confidence, but that our confidence should be in the giver of all good things (2 Corinthians 3).
You are a gift.
You are a gift intended for the Church and we need you. We have each been gifted uniquely, according to measure of Christ’s gift for the building up of the church (Ephesians 4). This means we have been entrusted with serving the church and using our gifts to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10). It’s very easy for us as artists to complain about the lack of creative culture in our church or others, and sometimes our complaint is valid. But standing on the outside, throwing rocks at stained glass windows is very different than committing on the inside to create new windows that spawn redemption and reflect the glory of God’s creativity.
Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Adventure.
Our aim in stewarding these gifts is not simply that we try hard, though we should (Colossians 3:23). The aim is not to create Christian art. It is simply to create excellent, thoughtful, and meaningful art that is rich with the characteristics of God and his story (See the characteristics of the skilled worker in 2 Chronicles 2:7;13-14). We want to be effective in capturing the imagination of the church and the city by making art that sheds light on the kingdom of God and pushes back the darkness of the city. Our quality mark should not be in light of other “church” art, but in light of God’s creation, in light of His glory and grace.
We Are All Right, All The Time, On Everything.
Think of your ideas and vision as a piece to the whole, but not the whole itself (Romans 12). God is building us up as one body, not individual parts (1 Corinthians 12), so go into the creative process looking to play a role. Don’t be a hero. Jesus is a better hero. And a hero that shares in his victory. Collaborating with other artists can get messy, so approach each other with humility and grace, submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21), just as Christ has shown us. And He is right all the time, on everything.
Be Bold or Font Weights for 500.
Be bold! You are not what you create and definitely not what you or your critics think. Your identity is firmly planted in the righteousness of Christ (Philippians 3). This is GREAT news for creatives. It means we don’t need the recognition of others to have joy, satisfaction, and acceptance. If someone doesn’t like what we create, or suggests revisions or edits, it doesn’t change our position with God and we are not rendered useless or unwanted. So relax. Be bold. Create as someone who has been freed by the grace of God without the need to defend yourself when your art is rejected or glorify your art when it is accepted (2 Corinthians 3). Christ has given you the ultimate acceptance and made you righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) Now party hard.
Our Story is God's Story
History does not bend towards you and me. Ultimately, our goal is to tell the story of God (Mark 16:15). God’s kingdom is not painted with self-expression. It is painted with the glory and grace of God (Mark 5:19). It is built on His redeeming purpose, not our own. We want people to sing “How Great thou Art” to God, not us. This is done through the stories we tell (Luke 8:39). Our story is God’s story.
This means that you are not insignificant, but as part of the Church you are essential to how God plans to tell the world His story! The good news is that God, in his goodness, he invites us into his story to redeems ours! The good news is that we don’t have to go at it alone, we are now a part of one body in Christ! The good news is that we can be bold, take risks, and dream big of a God who is able to do far more than we ask or think because Jesus has made us His! The good news is that history bends towards Jesus who will reign forever, over all things, as King of all creation!
All creation. Even ours.
Deacon of Music & Arts at The Paradox Church