From the beginning of time, God has been in love.
First, He was in love with the most pure, Holy, and right being in the universe for anyone to love–Himself. And this love of God for Himself has always been expressed in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
Eventually this explosion of love between God and His Son overflowed to the point where it had to be shared with others. Out of this ridiculously pure and holy love, God the Father was driven to create. So He said “Let there be light,” and “Let there be space between the waters,” and “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night” and so on. The crowning act of love expressing itself in art by these two was expressed on the sixth day: “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us,” (Genesis 1:26).
So everything that was created was created, not out of utility, but out of love. The Father loved the Son (because the Son was the exact expression of the Father) and that love culminated in the creation of the Earth. You and I and the computers or phones we are reading this on and the chairs we sit in and the views we see from where we sit were all designed as an expression of love for God. God creates out of love for Himself and now out of love for us.
Friends, we are all artists. We were designed to be like God. We were made in His likeness. Not only that, but when we decide to follow Christ, God promises that the very Spirit of God comes to live inside of us. This Holy Spirit contains the very creativeness of God within Him, so as believers we should be some of the most creative people on the face of the planet. Not all of us will paint or write or sing, but all of us will create. It’s part of our nature and part of having the Spirit of God within us.
While we are all called to be creative, not all of us are. By looking at the example of God, we see that true creativity is birthed out of love. Truly creative ideas, the kind that change the world and leave a mark on history, aren’t birthed out of selfishness and the desire to be an artist. They are birthed out of a passionate love that grips the artist so that he or she
creates must create. If we want to be an artist, we must fall in love.
The secular world talks frequently of muses. Originally these were daughters of Zeus who as spirits inspired artists and scientists. In today’s world we use the word to refer to people who become the inspiration for our art. These muses give writers and directors and painters ideas and provoke art. But from the beginning of time, God had One muse: His Son.
Our level of creativity as Christians is tied to the level that we are loving and musing on Jesus. The more we love Christ and think on Him, the more creative we will become, because our creativity will be birthed from the same fountain that caused God the Father to create the Earth. Paul wrote that without love we are a noisy gong or clanging symbol. The love of Christ compelling us to create keeps us from that kind of gaudy, temporary, short-lived art that doesn’t really matter. Love for Christ frees us to make art that resonates for eternity.
So work at expanding your skills. Get better at whatever your craft is. But in all your attempts to be a better artist, muse on Christ. Love Him well. The love of Him will fill you inspiration to create from a place of purity and inspiration the world will never be able to replicate.
In all your getting, artist, get a love for Christ.
Yesterday, I wrote about my journey of writing (almost) daily for the last 100 days or so. Today I want to take a minute and address how Jesus frees us to be truly creative.
Before I get too deep into the subject, though, let me be clear. I’m not what you typically think of when you think of an artist. I write. And for a long time because there were no “beautiful works of art” out there that I had produced, I could never relate to a conversation about being an artist.
But you may not even write. You may be a business owner or a construction worker or a house church planter or a housewife. And in each of those fields where God has called you, you produce art, you just don’t see it that way. Your art is the effect that you leave on those who view your work. And so whatever field you are in, no matter how artistic it feels, you are an artist. The key is accepting that fact.
For me, it was Seth Godin, a practicing Buddhist, who pushed me into the work of art*. His book, The Icarus Deception, pushed me to a place where I realized that I had been created to write. Art, according to Seth, is what happens when we get beyond our fears. My biggest problem was getting over the fear–not necessarily the fear of being rejected, that was there–but also the fear of having nothing to say. Maybe the biggest fear of all was that I would show up and pour out my heart and it would be met with a resounding yawn. Those of you who would be traditionally known as artists know what I mean.
This is where Jesus frees us to be an artist. Jesus comes to us in our lives and His goal is pour out the love of God in our hearts to such a degree that we are free from fear (1 John 4:18). Can you imagine what you would create if you were free from fear? Not just from the fear of rejection but also the fear of the yawn? The fear of no one caring? Jesus can even free us from the fear of not making an impact. In Jesus, none of these fears can keep us from creating, because our goal is not to please a man or a crowd–our goal is to love Jesus and obey Him. This is more rewarding than click counts and awards.
I’m still learning in this process. I still get that feeling in my gut–you know the one–this might not work…this will probably start a fight on the internet…my audience might hate this and this will be the one post that gets no traffic ever**…but I’m learning that as much as that feeling is designed to stop me from creating, it’s also an indicator. It’s an indicator that I may be onto something that no one else has been able to write because of fear. And so lately, as I’ve been feeling that fear, I’ve been taking it to the Lord. And He frees me from the need to be relevant and popular, from the need to make an impact, and from the need to be right. He loves me and that is enough.
So I want to invite you–whether you call yourself an artist or not–to join me on this journey. You don’t have to be a writer. You don’t have to write everyday if you are. You don’t even have to follow my path. But Jesus can free you–yes you–from the fear of what will happen once you hit “publish” in whatever world you are in. And that freedom releases you to be the creative agent you were designed to be.
*The irony of a Buddhist marketer inspiring me to create for the Glory of Jesus is not lost on me. Christians through the last few centuries have had a name for this phenomenon–Common Grace.
**Ironically, that last feeling is how I feel about this very post.