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Art comes in many forms – music, visual art, poetry/prose, drama, photography, and the list goes on.  It is beautiful and it illustrates humanity in some stroke of creative genius.

concertFor those of us who are Christian artists, we have two purposes –

  1.  To worship God with the gifts He has given us
  2. To engage the culture

The first purpose, we seem to get really well.  Any time we create, we utilize one aspect of the image of God within us.  When we show our creativity, we show God’s creativity.

It’s the second purpose that I want to focus on in this article.  Because we seem to get this one wrong… a lot.

The First Side of the Spectrum

It seems to me that there are two directions that we as Christians tend to go.

First, we go completely spiritual.  In a way that isolates non-Christians.

In this case, we take no thought of the fact that our art is meant to strike a chord with everyone in our community, not just Christians.

This is the vanilla song on Christian radio that has 4 chords, and goes something like, “You are good / I worship You / God, I love You / I’m nothing without You.”  It’s the wholesome painting of white Jesus holding a lamb and rubbing a blond hair, blue eyes child on the top of his head.

Even worse, it’s the in-your-face type of art that borderline insults non-Christians.

This would be the very famous photograph, Piss Christ, which depicts a plastic crucifix in urine.  It’s meant to show what we have done to Jesus in our culture.  Well, geez.  Even Christians are still upset about that one.

N.D. Wilson said it well in his article on Christianity Today.

“Wandering through Western Christendom, in which artists are currently arting, I’ve sampled just about all the flavors of Christian creator and Christian consumer. The too-sugary-sweet, message-is-master types. The respect-me-at-all-costs-hard-bitten types. The ironic. The naïve. The truly talented. The posers. The Christians who can’t tell a story without an altar call and the Christians who write as if all of reality fits into that one guilt-ridden moment when Cain was busy slaying Abel—giving man’s sinful nature the last word.”

Now, creating spiritual art is not a bad thing when it comes to that first purpose of worshiping God as stated above.  So there is definitely a place for this.

But we must also #create #art that our #culture can understand. Not just the #Christian culture. Click To Tweet

Our humanity is what ties us all together and we actually have deep common struggles with non-Christians.  We were made from the same dirt, after all.  Our art should reflect that.

The Second Side of the Spectrum

On the other side, we see Christians who want their art to be decidedly un-Christian.beautiful sunset

They want to be so much a part of the artistic community that they never tell the story of Jesus.  It ignores the single inspiration that, if we are Christians, actually puts any life into our work – that He is making all things new, including our very selves.

I could go through a few examples, but I might as well list any piece of work that was done by a non-Christian.  It’s the same result.

The message of the gospel is unique.  Christ says we are to be salt and light in the world.  We cannot ignore this.  If we want to distance ourselves from the first end of the spectrum, we can’t just go to the other end.

An Unused Sphere of Influence

So if we know what not to do, we gotta define what we should do.

As Cultural Creatives, we have a special influence on our culture.  You have a gift that not everyone has – the ability to create beauty.  It's our responsibility to change #culture for the better. Click To Tweet

So how do we do this?

guitar girlParticipate in public galleries, not just Christian ones.  Obviously, your paintings have to address humanity – our common themes of heartbreak, disappointment, disillusionment, joy, passion, confusion, and so on.  If you don’t, you won’t reach anyone.

Publish your writings in non-Christian publications.  Again, you will have to delve into mankind’s greatest problems – truth, corruption, humility, love and compassion, etc.  But you’ll need to provide the solution, as well, namely that “greater love has none than this, that he would give up his life for a friend.”  You know who said it:  Jesus.

Partner with the city.  Create a mural that bears our collective soul.  Design a sculpture that stands on a street corner.  Perform a concert in the city park.  Display your photographs in restaurant windows.

Whatever you do, you have got to do it in the community.  And you’ve got to do it with Jesus.  Or else you are not engaging the culture.

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