Introduction: How should we think about art? Why has art had such a varied history? What explains why we can relate to both “sad reflective art” as well as “joyous exuberant art”? How does art in its various forms sometimes make us yearn for something that seems out of reach?
I believe as we look to God’s Word as our guide we will be able to make some significant observations that will better position us to answer some of those questions. In the coming posts, we’ll consider seven ways the Christian worldview informs how we think about art…
First, Consider the Creator
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1). He made atoms and oceans, sunsets and frogs, butterflies and hogs. He made matter and motion, the stars in space and every trace of sand. He made my hands and yours too. God made flowers and bees. God thought up nectar and the neurons that make emotion.
As followers of Jesus, Christians have a missional mandate (Matt. 28:18-20). Christians are pupils and apprentices. We follow Jesus and we do as He did. We give our lives away in love and we tell people about the good news of Jesus. To be a disciple is to be missional. We are not true disciples if we are not missional.
We lovingly engage with the people around us. We do not shut ourselves off in “God ghettos,” we do not create Christian castles. Jesus said that we are to be lights in a dark world (Matt. 5:15). Paul said we are not to leave the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11) but be messengers of the King in the world (2 Cor. 5:20).
So, we as followers of Jesus…
Leave (the “bubble”)
We remove excess emphasis on Christian bubble activities and programs and instead spend time relationally engaging together with peers, neighbors, and coworkers. We are intentionally in the world. Jesus intentionally went to the world, He left heaven. He incarnated Himself (Matt. 1:22-23; Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:7).
We follow our King and we enter the world in love (Matt. 5:13-16; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:12 cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-10).
We could basically be the stars of any western, we have individualism, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency in our bones. The truth is, I know some pretty capable people. But with that capability can come idolatry. Self-idolatry. We, moderns in the west, don’t form gods out of gold, we are the gods. We have feet, mouths, and hands. We can deliver ourselves. At least, that’s what we think.
Our idolatry is often self-idolatry, we trust ourselves over against God. The New City Catechism says, “Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.” Often, we trust in ourselves. That, however, is not our only form of idolatry.
Our idols can be anything we…
- trust and look to more than God
- make more important than God
- give our attention to more than God
- expect to give us something that only God can give
- make so central and essential to life that if we lose it, life will no longer feel worth living
When something in our life is an absolute requirement for our happiness and self-worth, it is an idol. When that thing is threatened, whatever it is, we will act out. we will become anxious or angry when that thing is in possible danger.
Commanded to Rest
The concept of Sabbath is almost entirely gone. It is one thing to enforce sabbatarian “blue laws” on a whole country, it is another thing to think we are self-sufficient and have no need for any type of Sabbath.
This is not the place to have a big argument on the Sabbath so I don’t intend to do that here. But, I think it should be clear that we must honor the Sabbath in some way. We must at least set aside time to intentionally rest and reflect…
The Bible says we are commanded to rest. It says, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.” The Sabbath was primarily a day of rest. So, we could paraphrase, “Honor the day of rest, set it apart, keep it.” So, “We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it.”
Our Supposed Self-Sufficiency and Rest
“Only the weak rest.” That’s how we’re tempted to think. We play god. We think we can be everywhere and be everything to everyone as fast and as efficiently as possible.
We play god. We hate limits! We have military macho (makes me think of the nacho man commercial). We believe we can do everything and if we can’t there’s a problem. A problem with us, we’re weak, or a problem with someone or something else. We think we’re unlimited. We think we can play god. It’s really a form of idolatry.
This carries over to our work as well. Our relationship with work is way out of whack. We admire workaholics and will sacrifice our marriage and kid(s) to the god of success and achievement. We are out of step with the reality of our needs and limits.
“Practice unproductivity,” what?! The phrase, especially outside of DC, sounds almost heretical. You probably cringed when you read it and you’re probably tempted to stop reading.
It’s important to realize, when I say, “practice unproductiveness” that I’m not saying binge YouTube, play candy crush, or Fortnight. Please don’t do any of those things. I’m actually talking about Sabbath rest…
Sacrifice and Sabbath Rest
Aren’t we supposed to be living sacrifices? Isn’t that what Romans 12:1 says?
Living sacrifices don’t spend their time sitting around eating bonbons. They die. They give themselves away.
Charles Spurgeon essentially worked himself into the grave. And the Apostle Paul was absolutely willing to spend and be spent for the sake of the gospel.
So, what does the Bible say? Sacrifice or Sabbath rest?
The church is a gathering of the redeemed. We are made holy. We were not innately holy. The church is a place where those who know they are sick come to the Great Physician (cf. Lk. 5:31). The church is a monopoly of outcasts. It is filled with struggling ex-thieves, ex-drunkards, ex-adulterers, and ex-revilers (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
The church is (or should be!) a welcoming place for all because we have all been welcomed at Jesus’ own expense. Colossians radically says that in the church “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11).
The church is filled with all sorts of people with all sorts of problems. Let’s not be prideful about our problems and prudish about the problems of others.