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What Has He Placed in You?

February 21, 2011

Is there such a thing as Christian art?  Is it not just an expression of emotions, thoughts, desires?  This inner drive to create is given.  It’s given by our Creator.  So what makes a creation Christian or not?  Does anything make it Christian?

I’ve always felt that there was a specific “something” that made art Christian.  I’m certainly not the only one with this thought.  Just start a Google search with the words “is ‘name a band’ a…” and Google will finish your thought by plugging in the word Christian for you.  This says a couple of things.  One, it says that whether or not a band, or any artist, is Christian is important to people.  Two, it says that we’re not sure what it means to be a “Christian” artist.

So, what does it mean to be a “Christian” artist?  Our thinking is off, much like many other issues in the Church today.  We tend to be more concerned with what the finished product looks like than we are with the creator of the art.  We will overlook major character flaws in people if their art is publicly Christian enough.  I’m not going to go into specifics but we can all think of someone.  (Let me clarify.  By artist I mean anyone who creates.  This means preachers, singers, musicians, painters, writers, filmmakers, etc.)  Because someone writes about Jesus in a positive light we say they are a Christian artist.  Is that the best way?  What about the artist themselves?

Why do we go online to see if a band is Christian?   Sometimes we do it because we really, really like their music and don’t want to feel guilty about listening.  Sometimes, though, I think it’s because it strikes a familiar cord within us.  This cord is the cord that ties all Christians.  I was listening to a Christian vs. Atheist debate once and the atheist (I can’t remember who, I’ve listened to a lot) asked the Christian if an atheist could study Christianity and understand it.  The Christian debater said they could.  Well, right after that the atheist went off on some nonsensical rant about Christianity.  He did this because I don’t believe a non-Christian can truly understand what it means to follow Christ and be a Christian.  Most Christians don’t even fully understand.  Being a Christian connects you to your fellow man like nothing else will or can.  It’s a spiritual life.  It’s a spiritual existence.  We’re not connected to trees or any other craziness but we are connected to one another through Christ.  So, I said all of that to say sometimes it takes one to know one.  We research an artist’s faith because we sense in our spirit something familiar.  While this will not be the case 100% of the time I think it’s an important aspect to consider.

Now, if a connection can be spiritual does the message have to be physical?  By that I mean does the product, the art, have to be plainly Christian.  We, in the Church, seem to shun those who are not “out there” with their message.  If there is not a cross, an eagle, a horse, or a lighthouse it can’t be Christian, right?  It’s silly, of course, but it’s how we think.  If it wasn’t how we thought we would see more art in Christian bookstores, but we don’t.  We see the same 10 paintings done 100 different ways.  Music is slightly better, but not much.

We have forced artists into a box because of preconceived notions of what a Christian product is.  That is where we have it all messed up.  We are so concerned with being “in the world, but not of the world” that if something doesn’t fit the mold we consider it “worldly”.  By definition, the word worldly mean’s to be devoted to this world.  To judge a piece of art as worldly because it looks like something you might see in a secular gallery is shameful.  Would we rush to judgment of a man who looked like Hitler?  Isn’t it the same thing that we do all the time?  A song doesn’t say the word Jesus and it’s worldly.  A book doesn’t mention prayer and it’s of the devil.  A poem doesn’t reference a Psalm and it’s unchristian.  We condemn people and their art because they look like a sinner.  If we didn’t do it we wouldn’t see the lack of creativity in mainstream Christianity.

In the Christian community we too often ask all of our artists to be preachers.  That isn’t fair to them and it isn’t fair to us.  God didn’t make Christians when He made us.  While we do declare His handiwork, He didn’t tattoo it on our foreheads.  He made people and He called them good.  He made hills and called them good.  He made streams and called them good.  He made it all and called it very good.  A hill is not Christian but it can lead one to Christ.  The human body is not Christian, yet to study it is to be in awe of the Creator.

The truth is that a Christian is inseparable from Christ.  It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.  A vibrant Christian is no less capable of creating worldly art than God is capable of creating idols, yet millions worship His creation.  God created beauty for our enjoyment and to lead us to Him.  An artist does the same.  Created in God’s image, a child of God creates an image of God not yet seen.  There is no such thing as Christian art.  There are Christian artists who create because a Creator first created them.

I like horses, eagles and lighthouses, but I also like originality and variety.  Our individuality would tell you that God does too.  How many artists are out there who don’t fit the mold they thought a Christian should?  Express your love to God by creating with your unique expression.  What has God placed in you that He wants the world to see?  I can’t begin to imagine, but I want to see.

 

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From → General Thoughts

2 Comments
  1. I really enjoyed reading this. This same idea was something I wrestled with when I was younger and trying to figure out if I could be an artist and a Christian too. This would have been great for me to read at 17.

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