What difference does being a Christian make to studying the arts?
What kind of perspective does it help us to have as we work for our degrees?
Why should we work hard in our creative endeavours?
I want to suggest three big reasons:
Firstly, because we have an innate desire to create
Have a think for a moment about why it is that the very act of creating gives you joy.
When did you first begin to love it? What makes you want to create?
What incredible words to come across as we look to the beginning of Genesis and discover the reason for why we are creative, and indeed why we love it. The Almighty Creator of the universe has the very same instinct and has made us in his image! We find him flinging stars into the sky, bringing forth water, land and sea, and detailing the large expanses of the universe with living organisms of every colour, shape and form. Last but not least we see him creating man ‘in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ [Gen 1v27]. Our God, our creator, has created us with the very same DNA for creating. What an affirmation for where our innate desire to create comes from! Knowing that God has intimately crafted every part of his creation, from the grandeur of the mountains to the minutiae of a bee’s wing is hugely inspiring isn’t it? We have a God who knows what it is to be creative. We have a God who is more imaginative than all our imaginations put together, and who delights in his creation.
What a privilege to spend time getting to know this God and the creation that he reveals to us.
Why study the arts? Because we are rejoicing in being made in God’s creator image, and there is so much of creation to explore, unearth, investigate and recreate as we live in the world. Revel in the enjoyment! Revel that we are made in God’s image and that this is part of our witness as his children - that we bear his DNA!
Secondly, because through the various challenges we face its an opportunity to grow in our faith
A few of questions to ponder before you read on:
Why is it difficult to make art sometimes? Why is it a toil?
What kind of challenges does being an artist present to us as Christians?
What kind of challenges does an art school environment present to us as we seek to live for Jesus?
There will be times this year when being a Christian and an artist is hard.
There will be times when being an art student is hard.
But what a wonderful gift to have God’s perspective and purpose in this time as art students. We are given great confidence in his word that the Lord is using each trial and challenge that you come across, both big and small, to make you more like Jesus. His great desire is to make you steadfast in your faith, and to grow you in your love and dependance on Him.
So how amazing that when you’re given flak for believing in truth, or for not taking part in the experience-seeking highs, or simply for saying no to something and bearing the weight of that decision, that the Lord is even working these kinds of things for your good! It may not feel all that good, but what an assurance and hope God's word is to us.
Listen to Peter and James for some encouragement:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ." [1 Peter 1:3-7]
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." [James 1v2]
Let's store up these verses in our hearts, and remind one another of the truth continually.
There’s no doubting that when we are in a tough situation, when we feel out of our depth, it’s then that we are more dependant on God. Why not pray that God would use these times for you to grow in your faith rather than to grumble, and to be steadfast rather than stumble.
Lastly, because as people respond to being in the creation, being an art student is a wonderful place to point people to Jesus, the author of creation
A final question for you: What kinds of questions are people confronting as they make their art work?
As artists we question. We question what’s in front of us, around us, inside and outside of us. So much of what we do is questioning, researching, inquiring and responding to the world around us.
Why not make the most of this questioning spirit as you seek to talk to your coursemates about Jesus?
What a gift to be in a studio environment where you can actively get into conversation about what people think about the world, just by asking them questions about their work.
How about asking the following questions as some starters:
Tell me about your work
What inspires you?
Where do you think our ability to create comes from?
How have you come to this particular conclusion about the world?
Are you willing to investigate other points of view?
Three big reasons why studying the arts is a truly valuable use of your time. Why not discuss these reasons with another Christian art student and pray for one another in response?