God’s Love for Creatives and Artists
Creating and living a wholehearted life requires accepting and embracing God’s love for you as a creative or artist. No matter what you heard growing up, God does not love you less than people with other gifts (doctors, lawyers, or CEOs). He does not see you as second-class citizens in The Kingdom of God. He gave you gifts that mirror the heart and character of God Himself in a special way.
Whether your church understands and encourages you, whether the world understands or applauds you, you need to know God’s heart for you. Don’t rush through this. Take time to read through what the Bible says about you as a believer and as an artist. Be encouraged. Be strengthened. Find hope in knowing God’s love for creatives and artists.
You Are a Friend of God
God is not far away from you. He is near you. He calls you, His friend! This may feel funny to you because when we dwell on the character of God, we can make the mistake of overemphasizing his holiness, righteousness, and great power. When this happens, we can focus too much on His transcendence (He is exalted, above the Heavens) and lose sight of His immanence (He is near us, as Immanuel or “God with us”). Just as God did not stay aloof in Heaven, but came to earth as a man, He is both holy, and yet ‘closer than a brother.’ It can be a challenge in our worship and in our daily life to hold onto both dynamics in our relationship with God. This is part of why Jesus told us that he calls us His friends in John 15:
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15.15 (NIV)
You are Ministers and Priests
As Christians, redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, you are ministers and priests. This may sound a bit awkward for my catholic friends, but it is clear in Scripture that all believers are priests. This doesn’t mean we are completely holy or that we have our theology perfectly settled. It speaks to our role in God’s economy. We may have different gifts, but we are all ambassadors for God. Consider these words in 1 Peter,
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 peter 2.9 (NIV)
People often think this is some radical new idea in the New Testament, but it isn’t. This passage mirrors the text in Exodus 19:
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” – Exodus 19.4-6 (NIV)
God had rescued them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea and demonstrated His love for them. Then He told them that they have a unique role to play in the history of mankind. They are all part of a holy nation and kingdom of priests. So while there were actual priests who administered God’s holy sacrifices and led in the festivals, that does not mean the rest of the Israelites are irrelevant. No. They are all, corporately, a kingdom of priests. This means that whether you ever work in a typical “ministry” job, you are still in ministry by virtue of being a Christian.
You Have a Unique Role in the Kingdom of God
God transforms cultures through the arts, visual symbols, pageantry, and worship. God showed us in the book of Exodus how he uses the arts. Many theologians focus on how God gave us the law, but over a third of the book is about the artwork. God transformed their culture through both the law, which told them how to live, how to love God, and to love one another.
But once that was established, he commissioned artwork for the Tabernacle, as well as extravagant robes for the priests, and incense to be used in the presence of God. He used artists to activate the senses of the Israelites, and to help them understand who this God, Yahweh, really is. In fact the first person in the Bible who is “filled with the Spirit of God” is an artist named Bezalel. Here is what we are told in Exodus 31, as God speaks to Moses on Mt. Sinai after giving him the Ten Commandments:
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship.
Every creative and artist who follows Jesus needs to understand the power of this passage. If you don’t know who this is or what this really means for you as an artist, do yourself a favor and watch this video.
You are a Foreigner – in the Best Sense
Creatives can feel like foreigners. They think and express themselves in a unique way, because their calling as artists embodies a call to express and communicate ideas uniquely. As Christians, we also know that we are foreigners. 1 Peter tells us that we are sojourners and exiles in this world. This doesn’t mean we should try to escape it. It means we should understand the difference between how Christ called us to live, in contrast to the way the culture around us tells us to live. Consider these verses from 1 Peter,
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2.11(NIV)
The world should see the way we live and create and be drawn to the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit within us. They may not be able to put it into words, but there should be something about how you live, think and create that feels different. As the Holy Spirit moves through you, and as you live your life to honor Him, they will find something about you to be foreign and attractive. This is the aroma of Christ (2 Cor. 2:15).
And yet there is a caveat: For those who hate God, it will offend them. This is not your fault, it is simply their rebellion toward Christ played out in their relationship with you. We should never have the goal of pleasing everyone. Clearly, Jesus didn’t.
You are Precious to God
It is soul nurturing to know that you are cherished. As author and psychologist Curt Thompson says, “We all come into the world looking for someone who is looking for us.” It starts when we are babies gazing into our mother’s eyes, and enjoying the embrace of our father, but eventually we should understand this desire is only fully met in God. He never stops pursuing you and me because we are precious to Him. He calls us His “chosen ones” because He did choose you before the foundations of the earth. (Ephesians 1:4). He calls us beloved.
Why beloved? Because He has always loved you. He demonstrated it by dying for you, but also by giving you the Holy Spirit to encourage you and help you to understand his love for you. Paul told us in the letter to the Corinthians,
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other. – Colossians 3.12 (NIV)
He doesn’t tell us to love one another before establishing how cherished and loved you are. He doesn’t want you to miss this fact – you are precious to Him! We must never rush off to “do something for God,” without first understanding how precious you are to Him. We don’t love others out of a desire to earn God’s love. We do it out of gratitude because like that little infant, we have looked in His eyes and experienced His love for us.
Your Response to God
It is wonderful to know these truths, but they don’t do us any good unless they permeate our lives and result in a change of heart or a change in our life. So, take a minute to consider what these truths mean to your work as a creative and to your heart as a believer. Then share down below how this influences the art you create and the way you live your life as a creative who is also a priest, a friend of God, a foreigner and someone who is precious to God.
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