We all were made in God's image, the Great Creator.This means we are all called to be creators in some way. It is a huge part of who we are meant to be. Think of how often God creates -- all the time! Babies are conceived and born. Flowers bloom. He creates in each of His kids lives every single day if they let Him. And the sunrises and sunsets! Different every day and different in every part of the world!
I have begun to read the book that is pictured above, and it is making me think. Being an artist, a writer, a dancer, an actor -- all the artsy kind of professions -- can very much be used by God. In fact, if we are led in this way, it is calling. We are to use our gifts to add beauty and joy and truth to this world and to the church.
But do we? How can we open up the church and share these kinds of gifts to help us worship?
I want to share a few passages from this book. It is a collection of essays written by different Believers. The first chapter is written by Andy Crouch and it is entitled The Gospel: How is Art a Gift, a Calling, and an Obedience?
I'll just copy down what I underlined last night. I hope it makes you think and consider how the arts can be part of your church worship experience. Crouch is focusing on culture here and the reason for it and the gift that it is. Art is unique to a culture. We learn a great deal about a culture by looking at its art. And as I quote later, our attitude toward art is often very similar to our attitude toward worship. Crouch uses the word "unusefulness" which does not mean useless. Instead refers to something or someone who priceless because they just are, because they are creations of the Great Creator and that is enough....
I hope to convince you that the gospel is more truly and deeply about culture in general, and the arts in particular than we have yet imagined.
culture is what we make of the world, in both senses.
A garden (and he was talking about the first Garden in this part of the book) is nature plus culture. . . Culture is God's gift to Adam. . . God begins the work of culture before he gives the work to Adam. Culture is God's creation as much as nature is.
God has placed primordial humanity in a world that will only reach its full potential for beauty when it is cultivated, explored -- where more goodness waits to be unearthed. The world is even better than it appears. The gold of that land is good (referring to Genesis 2:12).
Then he begins to talk about Genesis 3, the fall:
The man and the woman try to use the world for something more than it could ever be -- to replace relationship with God, relationship with the only true source of wisdom, with a created thing. It is not enough for the world to be beautiful and good -- we want it to be self-sufficient. We want to be self-sufficient within it.
Culture is no longer the good, gracious activity of tending a good, gracious world. It is a defensive measure, an instrumental use of the world to ward of the world's greatest threat -- the threat, suddenly a threat, of being known, of trusting one's fellow creatures and one's Creator. The fig leaves are useful -- barely -- but they are not a delight to the eyes. They are strictly instrumental, hastily assembled to solve a problem and secure a measure of protection. . . (Now he refers to the tower of Babel) We will steal back enough of the world from its Maker to be able to eke out life ourselves, self-naming, self-contained.
Bread and wine are culture, not just nature. . . Taken, broken, blessed, and given, these cultural goods, these 'creatures of bread and wine' as the old prayer book had it, become sign and presence of God in the world.
Art is, perhaps, one way of naming anything we as cultural beings do that cannot be explained in terms of its usefulness . . . That which cannot be turned into a means to an end, but asserts itself as an end -- intrinsically, and in some senses inexplicably, worthwhile.
Art and worship stand together on the common ground of the unuseful (not useless). And this is why our attitude toward art ultimately has a great deal to do with our attitude toward worship.
Who will be the people who can play gracefully, unusefully, in the world? Who will be the people who turn unafraid toward pain? Who will be the people who believe in beauty without being afraid of brokenness? Who will be the people who champion that which is not useful?
Without a reason to believe in the unuseful, who will be left to champion those people who are not useful?