The Art and The Audience
by Deacon Matt Shelton
The arts play a significant role in reflecting and directing our worship. And whether we know it or not we all participate. Our brother Paul shows us this in Romans 1 when he says that God’s divine nature and eternal power are displayed in the things that are made.
How many times have we experienced the beauty of God while observing a sunset? Or feared the Lord as we stand face to face with a mighty sea? Creation has made us an audience to the truth, goodness, and beauty of God and no one is safe from its influence. Art speaks all languages, crosses all borders, and is the grand stage for both the king and the peasant. The great American designer Paul Rand once said that without the aesthetic, there is no love1. He understood something that the Church often forgets. Creation is the truth of God presented in love. It speaks to our imagination, not our intellect. By God’s design, we are not merely moved by information, but inspiration. And praise God for it! Can you imagine if steak or chocolate had no flavor? Or if the earth had no mountains, trees, or change of scenery at all? God’s generosity and thoughtfulness is scandalous and extravagant beyond pragmatic function. Art has glorious form meant for our joy and His glory.
IF CREATION IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF GOD’S COMMUNICATION, WHAT CAN THE CHURCH DO TO IMAGE THIS?
The first thing we can do is recognize the impact that it currently has on our own lives and learn how to enjoy God through the arts. Our favorite tv shows, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, are all longing for or echoing the truth of God. Start having conversations with your friends and family about what you are watching or listening to.
ASK THESE QUESTIONS:
“What does this tell me about the character of God or the depths of my sin?
“What lies am I being told told in this story?”
“Do I find myself worshiping creation in this or the Creator?
At first it might feel awkward or even an interruption to your enjoyment, but over time you will find yourself growing in affections towards Jesus when you start to see God’s thoughtfulness everywhere from an abstract painting to a pop song on the radio.
Second, we contribute. In Exodus 25, before God commissions the works of art for his sanctuary, he calls his people to contribute resources for the artists. So even if you are not an artist, God has given you a vital role in the making of art! We provide resources, discipleship, support, and community for artists to create art that displays the glory and grace of Jesus. All that we might grow in our love for Jesus and Fort Worth.
IF ART SHAPES CULTURE, AND CULTURE SHAPES PEOPLE, THE CHURCH SHOULD BE AT THE FRONT LINES CREATING GREAT ART TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
1. [OC Archive, “Paul Rand The One Club Hall of Fame Induction 2007” YouTube. Online video clip, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlxT5idTG6A (Accessed 19 September 2016).]↩