I had the opportunity once to hear an artist share his testimony about his experience with Christianity and creativity. One of the things he said was that, in college, he felt ostracized by his art peers because he was a Christian, and he felt ostracized by his Church congregation because he was an artist. In the art community, he was seen as intolerant, and in the Church, he was seen as too liberal and unconventional. That story still resonates with me. I come from a creative and artistic background. In college, I majored in Theatre and English with a concentration in creative writing, and I have always loved music, going to museums, and experiencing art in a visceral and impactful way. So, to know that many Christian artists may feel out of place in the two most influential spheres of their lives strikes a nerve with me.
I believe that our God is a creative God.
I believe that creativity is something that God has given us to better reflect His image and glory. And, I believe that, even in the secular world, we can view art as a way to better understand the world and the people that God has created.
I think that so often we try to separate so-called “Christian” art from the rest of the artistic community. Or, we think that, if we are a Christian, we can’t create powerful pieces that resonate with real life and real issues. Of course, there is nothing wrong with art that is specifically made for worship and praise. That is honoring and glorifying to God. However, I think that there is also a place for Christians to be bold when it comes to creativity, to step out of the bubble that is sometimes placed over Christian art. After all, we as Christians have a unique worldview that can be expressed through art to raise questions and reach people who are seeking out God. And, understanding how God models creativity can help us understand our own creative drive and vision.
In the beginning God created…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:1, 27 NASB
We see in Genesis that God created everything. That’s the first action in the Bible. God created. We then see that God created men and women in His image. It makes sense, then, that creation would be a natural, inherent desire of our hearts, designed to point others to the ultimate Creator. I’ve talked a lot about art specifically, but creativity can take many different forms. You may love thinking of creative solutions to problems, or have a deep desire to become a parent and literally create another human being. Whatever form it takes, we all have a sense of what it means to create and take inspiration from the world around us.
Perhaps the first example of this comes from Genesis 2. I’ve heard it said that God was the first artist and Adam was the first poet. God gives Adam the responsibility of naming all of the creatures. Adam breaks out into poetry the moment he first sees Eve. In a very direct way, we see how God’s creation inspires Adam to create things of his own.
We can also see how God models creativity in the Psalms and in Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon. These books of the Bible are basically books of poetry. While the Psalms often sing praises to God and serve as supplications and prayers, Song of Songs represents the love God has for His people and the love between a husband and a wife. When you examine these books, you see accounts of deep creativity, sadness, anger, joy, love, and humility, all of which are God given emotions and experiences. Our experiences with God and the world around us inspire us to express our creativity in every season of life, not just when we are happy and uplifted.
Finally, we see how God models His creativity through Jesus Christ. Many of the familiar stories we know from the Gospels are actually parables, fictional stories used to teach us more about God’s love and our hearts. Jesus didn’t over explain these stories. He didn’t lay out for us exactly what we’re supposed to take from them. Instead, He used these to make us think and to examine how they can apply to our lives in different situations. In the same way, we can create things that make a powerful statement without explicitly telling people what they’re supposed to think and feel about it. We can illustrate aspects of life and creatively express truth in a way that makes people think in a new way. We can embrace our creativity as a way to better understand how we are created in God’s image, and we can use our God-given creativity to glorify His name and serve in His kingdom.