This article is about serving the Lord with art.

Source: New Horizons, 1992. 2 pages.

Serving The Lord as a POTTER

For a Christian working in the arts, the knowledge of God as Creator and of man as his creature provides the only foundation on which to build an understanding of his work.

We have the ability to be creative because we are made in the image of God, but that does not make us little copies of God. Yet Christian and non-Christian artists alike often present themselves and their work as if this were not so.

It is common for artists to refer to their work as an extension of themselves. They often think that they actualize, extend, and develop that which was not there before. Their art is an expression of their inner being by their own power – an assertion of autonomy that they do not possess.

Only God knows his own mind well enough to be able to actualize his thoughts, creating something out of nothing. All of us need materials with which to work. We have to change, correct, discard, and rework. We have periods when we aren't "inspired." We are subject to the limitation that we are creatures, never "free" from being dependent on God.

All of us are entirely sustained by God. We live and move and have our being only by his design and only because he is God. Yet we often describe ourselves and our work as if we were in competition with him.

Even though we are redeemed, our sinfulness sets us in rebellion. If it weren't for God, we could not even stand up. And without him, we would not only fall, but throw ourselves willingly to the ground. Yet it is possible to sound as if we were in competition with him without even wanting to.

Part of the problem is trying to explain what art is and how you do it. Even if you could define that in a nutshell, it would be difficult for nonartists to understand. In trying to verbalize something that is not understood verbally, we often try to do that which belongs to God alone, usurping his glory. We end up sounding pompous, as if artists live on a higher plane than everyone else, with special rules that do not apply to others.

We do have to make the best use of the abilities that God has given. Not just our finished work, but the whole creative process, opens the eyes to the beauties of God's creation. In humility we should offer our best efforts to the praise of God because we owe him no less as Lord and Creator. In Genesis the creation is described as "all very good," and God sees that it is all very good. No mistakes, no erasures. The process of making things is for us quite different in that respect. It is completely different in that we are not God, but his creatures.

For us, starting may be the most difficult part of any creative work. The idea of something new or different and keeping open the avenues of experiment; can be detours on the road to completion. There are times when you have to envision the finished work before you start. And when the finished work is good, whoever made it, we can glorify God for his gifts to men, whether the artist acknowledges his Creator or not. Many Christians are affronted by the great work of some non-Christian artists, with a variety of rationalizations, but God's works of providence as well as creation reflect his will and show his ultimate authority. This is not diminished by our lack of understanding.

I am thankful that God has provided me with Christian friends and teachers who work in the arts and give me criticism and strength. People such as Trudi Rosenberger, Richard Robertson, and Richard Abbott understand the importance of developing a Christian approach to art and seeing the glory of God in all his works.

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