Art is only a tiny line item in most church budgets, but what if it were recognized as one of the most powerful forces working for or against the kingdom?
Do you knit? Do you dabble with the guitar? Do you have aspirations to make movies or write books?
If you consider yourself artistic in any way, I want you to know your passions have a purpose. But even if you’re not artistic, I encourage you to live your life like it were art. You are a living canvas to fill with beauty—beauty that has the power to draw others into the kingdom.
I can think of two main areas that motivate people and in which art plays a major role.
The first way art motivates us is by pleasing our senses. Would you agree that many people seek to fill their lives with good food, music, images, story, and design? How they choose their restaurants, TV shows, where they vacation, and even the interior design of their spaces reflects this. Is captivating beauty not often what dictates how we spend our time and money? If we make art good enough, it earns an invitation into people’s homes and lives. And if our art carries Christ within it, He is brought into those spaces as well.
Artistic expression doesn’t have to ooze crosses and fishes. Maybe it’s better to simply exemplify the character of Christ in art. Even just doing your art with excellence preaches something about the God’s people.
But pleasing the senses is just a facet of the real strength of art.
The second area is the contagious vision art can cast in people’s lives. Think about why you do much of what you do. At the root of some of it, is it because something cast a vision beautiful enough to make you say, “I want to do that”? or “I want to be like that”?
I talked to my sister-in-law today and she mentioned how she found her passion for boats in the movies she saw. This led her to spend a whole summer working on a boat and to design her wedding around a nautical theme. What if we painted as compelling an image of what God’s kingdom could be? Would it make it easier to live it out on earth?
When people see how a talented, charismatic actor talks and treats people in movies, it can cast seeds of behavior into hungry young souls looking for who they want to become.
When a catchy country music hit jokes that weekends are for drinking, the cultural reservoir for weekends fills with a little more alcohol. People who sincerely don’t know how to fill their weekends may find part of their answer there.
Or when an influential rapper sings with finesse and swagger about finding someone at the club to take home, that message has impact. And it is the finesse and swagger of art done well that allows even hurtful messages to sneak in and take hold of our imaginations or subconscious minds. A song with an irresistible hook can get a phrase running through our head all day. What if we could instead make that phrase a Christ-centered one reminding us to help our neighbor?
Maybe your passion is fashion. Fashion is a visual way to communicate that we are fluent in the language of culture. If we want to be considered a contender among those who shape culture, fashion is a tool to communicate that. And we can choose what we communicate by what we wear. If you can find quality vintage fashion in thrift shops, this communicates that you strive to do beautiful things with a prudent perspective of money. Or you can give a voice to the needy in Africa or the homeless by sporting brands like Toms or The Giving Keys.
If you don’t consider yourself an artist, consider yourself a type of billboard, or at least a story-maker. People are watching how you live your life. If you are compelling in the way you live out your faith, if you embody a righteousness, conviction, sincerity and gentle kindness that people long to see, you deposit a seed. This is a challenge, not to live disingenuously, but instead to find God at your core and listen to the original Creator and who He is calling you to be.
We are art. We are movie. We are song. We are on display by how we live our lives. But if you make art the masses want to surround themselves with, you are multiplying the effect. Use that power and do it with finesse and swagger because we have been given power to shape our world.
So as you gather with family over the holidays, don’t be afraid to spread the kingdom by giving your art as a gift. Knit or paint presents for your family. Strum background music on your guitar as loved ones gather. Take video of the magic moments to make a movie you can send to everybody afterwards. Write a short story you can read over dessert to remind people to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving.
Don’t be afraid to share your creative gifts, for it has been given to you to give to others. Your passion has a purpose, and it can usher God’s kingdom into their lives.