24 July 2014
by Ann Clifford
Much 21st century arts bombard us with a sense of disquiet, anger, profound sadness or at times disgust. It's too easy to get carried along by the TV series of the moment and fail to see the underlying intent of the creators.
The series Friends was on television from 1994-2004. I watched it, loved it and rushed home to see the next episode. Yet one of its deeply costly messages was that pornography was fine; it was normal;it was simply like eating ice-cream when you felt down.
What is needed is a fresh outpouring of God's creativity in the arts. Visual arts, sculpture, theatre, dance, installation, film - in fact any medium which an artist uses to create work.The arts can provide a way for the 'eyes of our hearts to be enlightened' as Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18.They can shed prophetic light as well as deliver a prophetic future revelation of the way God sees things.
More and more Christians are at work in the arts, which is fantastic. They work for the realisation of the vision of others.They contribute and they can influence. However, I think we need to see an army of artists creating the work that carries the imprint of God's eyes and heart that speaks to people and causes a seismic shift within them.
Benedict Nightingale, a noted journalist and theatre critic, says the artist is someone committed to "a trade which can change hearts, mould minds, worry the entrenched, upset the tyrannical and nudge history".
It's interesting that Nightingale calls it 'a trade'. When we think of the word trade we might think of becoming a plumber, decorator or an electrician - all excellent and potentially lucrative jobs - certainly more lucrative than the arts for most. A trade is about becoming a skilled worker.It is about taking yourself seriously, committing yourself to learning from others, possibly becoming apprenticed to someone.How much time are we prepared to give God to learn? They say 10,000 hours is the minimum amount of time needed for mastering a craft.It takes time, commitment, energy and courage for the long haul.
Why is creating something of beauty important? I am convinced everyone feels a longing for our souls to be fed and to be inspired.Why else does nature inspire, lift our spirits and become a go to place for so many of us?
Beauty inspires, brings hopes and points to God. Beauty is full of worship. Not that we should end up worshipping beauty itself as so often happens, reducing it to something that can be purchased and owned .Rather, beauty can be a signpost to Him who is beauty.Beauty is awe-inspiring and can and should be reclaimed for Him.
Our challenge is to create beauty that embodies something of heaven, a creativity that acknowledges the spiritual dimension, inhabited by perfect love which is available to all. We must discover ways to reveal that which is the true heart of everything through every expression possible.
We should also not confuse creating art with the need for success in our 21 century society. Artists down the centuries have created, been misunderstood and their voice perhaps unheard. If we are called as an artist, we should concentrate on serving God and allow Him to deal with the arena of our voice.The journey of the artist is as taxing as all journeys in life. It requires patience and determination, too often dealing with rejection by unrelenting gatekeepers. Our egos and the need for success are things that must be nailed to the Cross. It is not about us, it is about Him.