Thursday, 7 March 2013

Art by itself cannot save... really?

‘Art by itself cannot save.  Art by itself cannot put us in touch with the divine, or transform us, or make us into better people’  
Ted Turnau, Popologetics
As I came across this quote a couple of months ago, and pondered on what Turnau is saying, I felt at once both immensely frustrated and completely liberated.  Let me explain both having had some time to dwell on it:

Firstly, I felt deep frustration at the fruitlessness of what I was doing week in, week out.  Is my art really not useful at all for the kingdom?  Can it really not lead people to Christ?  Are my grand aspirations of wishing to transform people's view of the world completely redundant?  I felt a frustration at Turnau's prognosis on my work that unsettled me.

But secondly, I think the reason I felt frustrated was precisely because Turnau had pinpointed something in my proud heart that needed to be disturbed and wrestled with.   As I thought more and more about his words, a deep sense of liberation occupied my heart.   What a refreshing tonic to my hard-working, high-achieving soul, that my own art, my own works, my own efforts, by themselves, cannot save.  My work can in no way supply the deep heart transplant that the world so desperately needs.  What a relief! So often I have had such grand aspirations for my work - too grand in fact.  Whilst I long for my work to reflect our awe-inspiring Creator God, and to be a window, a pointer, a signpost, a glimpse of his all-redemptive power and glorious future hope, it is a deeply humbling thing to recognise and stand by the Cross of Christ as the only thing that can save.  The Cross remains the only thing that can put us in touch with God himself, the divine, as that curtain is torn down.  The cross remains the only thing that can transform us as our sin is forgiven.   And day by day The Cross is the only thing that can make me into a better person as I continue live in light of it.

Overall I think Turnau's quote is wonderfully liberating as it lifts the pressure off me, and my work.  I am able to live and work for Jesus, my work is able to be a window, a pointer, a glimpse of the gospel in different ways, without the pressure for anything more.  And most importantly it shifts the glory from myself, onto the one who is wholly worthy and deserving: The Lord Jesus Christ.

Turnau's simple and liberating words have been a necessary pin-prick to my balloon of pride.

What about you?

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