a reflection of personal experiences or perceived experiences.
It is the quintessential expression of our essence, the status of our inward selves. It is how we share and interact with our environment. This is why a million people can experience the same event and there can be so many variations in the retelling. The deviations are so different that some may wonder if they all had the same experience; the shades of grey are from one spectrum to the other. (Having said that, just because something is true, it doesn’t make it Truth.)
The eccentric, misunderstood marionette of the breathtaking, enigmatic images that resonant and transcend spatial and imaginative limitations. (a common perception)
These are inferences that can be observed in everyday interactions with people. Consider the heaviness of depression that hangs on every outlet of expression. The depressed may smile but the weight of their burden causes heavy, distracted brush strokes that paint a frown on their soul.
Every thought, deed, or spoken word is the offspring of our personal philosophy and worldview, the expression of Art is no different.
Art is not a separate nor delineated persona from ourselves; we can only reflect or refract what we have allowed to be within our souls. An artist can’t paint a horrifying masterpiece and be without tormenting deviations and perversions. We can only vividly express what is deep within us.
Jesus tells us in Mark 7:15, “There is nothing from without the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.” (ASV)
Conventional logic would say that if you use Art as medium to express those murderous rages then you won’t enact those feelings or thoughts in real time, but remember that the animal that you feed the most becomes the strongest.
“Inside of me there are two dogs.
The black dog is mean and tries to talk me into making the wrong choices.
The white dog is good and encourages me to make the right choices.
The black dog fights the white dog all day.
When asked by the friend which dog wins, the elder reflected for a moment and replied;
The one I feed the most.” (Native American Adage)
The Christian Artist:
The misunderstood, misguided, and pitied soul who seems destined to dirty their fluffy white tail in experiential sin to try and add spice to their vanilla, religious endeavors. (a common perception)
Think about the disparity between the two seemingly similar vocations, Artist and Christian Artist. The latter nearly brings a chuckle to your lips. “What would a Christian Artist really have to paint, draw, or write about?”
Art is created from the depths of our experiences, from the cliffs of insanity to the mountains of great contentment. It is carved in granite with the callused hands of a well-worn life. What does a Christian know about ‘real’ life or ‘real’ experiences since they live shelter lives within the confines of ancient superstition?
The validity of Christian grief, pain, and disappointment is somehow sneered at as self-inflicted due to our dogmas and our contentment, joy, and passionate pursuits are written off has hallow and superstitious nonsense.
Non-Christians don’t care about Christian Art or dismiss it as Drawing of an Arian Jesus with soft white sheep in a dreamy pastoral setting, unfortunately this is not the main hurdle the Christian Artists are facing. The barrier that is blocking the legitimacy of this vocation is Stigma within our own ranks.
I would like my Christian readers to think again about the connotations that were conjured up when you read the words ‘Christian Artist’.
Do you know some Christian Artist? What comes to your mind?
Do you think about how talented they are, or are you thinking about lax standards and indulgence in ‘freedoms’, all for the sake of their Art?
Over the last 20 years of my Christian life I have known a great many Christian Artist. They were mainly Musicians and “Evangelists”(Preaching is an Art form that I will discuss later).
They lacked discipline and dedication to Christianity. They seemed to live, speak, and act in ways that were not Christian at all. It was as if they felt they could not be burdened with the yoke of Christianity or their Art would suffer; a Quasi-Bohemian philosophy, used by both the Artist and the Christian community.
James 1:8 says, “A double mined man is unstable in all their ways.”
The twisted logic is that, ‘the influence of their Art justifies their lifestyle.’ This lifestyle is a direct rejection of the essence of Christianity: living in intimacy with Christ, having a relationship that takes you further toward Christ (the Light) not away from Him. But the popularity of their interpretation supersedes any doctrinal or philosophical disparity with Scripture or Dogmas.
How can we speak Truth about Christ if we are never in an intimate relationship with Him? Or can you become more enlightened about God and Truth by performing acts and speech that caused a need for Christ to be crucified, again? Can you find the voice of Truth by engaging in the habitual rhetoric of indulgence and lies?
The idea that unrestricted experiences bring more enlightenment is absolutely not true. Yet, the Christian Artist may feel that if they limits their experience then they is limiting the depth of their interpretation.
The thought process is that if you bring discipline and structure upon an artistic vision you will snuff out the passion and expression like a smoking candle. Solomon gives us some great advice on this very topic.
Ecc 2:10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I did not withhold my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor, and this was my part of all my labor.
Ecc 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit; and there is no profit under the sun.
Ecc 2:12 And I turned to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly; for what can the man do who comes after the king, when they have already done it?
Ecc 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. (King James Version)
One doesn’t need to experience unmitigated sexual escapades to understand lust and pleasure. One only needs to embrace Love to know that the former two expressions are meaningless with out it.
One doesn’t need to willfully subject themselves to darkness and pain to understand depravity and grief. One only needs to experience a moment with the Light of the world to know that darkness and pain have no illumination.
Darkness can never illuminate or make any subject more clarion; it is by nature confusing and indecipherable…because it is hiding what is really there. It only leads further down an endless corridor of shadows of things that might or might not exist.
The seductive aspect of lust and pleasure, darkness and depravity are as confusing as they are temporal, and usually offer immediate gratification or some similitude of release. Their ‘beauty’ is disfigured and you can only see it when you bring it into the Light.
The passion and expression of Art should be married to discipline and grounded philosophy. Artists should not have to create alternate experiences. They should be able to use their talent, passion, and training to create/find beauty in their environment.
There is no need to look for Light. Jesus is the Way, Truth, and the Life. He is the Light of the World and the more intimate we become with Him the more Truth and Light is illuminated.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.
John 14:7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. And from now on you know Him and have seen Him.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The Christian Artist should be well-studied in the Word, well-acquainted with Jesus (Relationship), and fluent in their medium of expression. If either one of those elements is missing then it will be apparent in their interpretation and/or they daily lives, which in time will become visible in their expressions.
Is it important for the Body of Christ, the Christian Church, to begin to view Christian Artists will a higher regard? Yes. Because a picture, a painting, or poem can illuminate Truth in a way that cannot always be presented from the pulpit, a sermon, or even a book. It is equally important that Christian Artists behave in a manner that is deserving of respect and honor.
It seems counter-intuitive to promote a Christian Artist’s label, as opposed to simply calling us Artists, but I am being intentional. I am making a distinction because I think that the paradigm within the Body of Christ needs to be adjusted. The conventional Christian wisdom alludes that Truth can only be expressed from certified/ordained “Ministers”, “Preachers”, or “Leadership” in the form of a book or pulpit sermon.
A sermon is a well-crafted, scripture laden speech. It is an art form as both the writing and the oration of the sermon are derived from artistic talents and giftings. It is hard to find people who will listen to a preacher who is not ‘anointed’ or that doesn’t speak to them. It is because they have allowed themselves to be used as a vessel or oracle of God, they are a conduit of Truth. Isn’t that what an artist is, a conduit?
Does one Art form have more validity than another, especially if the same scriptures and Truth are being revealed? No. Art is an expression of Truth, and God is Truth. He is also perpetually creative and creating in a innumerable of ways.
God uses our sensory perceptions to interact with us. He visits us in Dreams, speaks to our hearts and minds, shows us visions, gives us poetry and songs (Psalms), and etc.
Why can’t a Christian paint a dream-scape or vision and have it be just as revered as a 30-minute sermon on Heaven? If both are structurally accurate and both Christian Artists are intimately involved with Jesus, is there any difference?
What would happen if Non-verbal Art (Drawings, Paintings, Photographs, written Poetry and Prose) brought sinners to repentance, the heart-broken to intimacy, and the spiritually barren to spiritual fulfillment?
What if the Gospel was presented in a manner that transcends spoken words?
What if there were Paintings that not only revealed an image of Truth, but an innate discourse of Truth in its very essence?
What if a Poem was so layered and imbued with alluded scriptures and philosophical Truth that every time you read it, the very core of your soul was shaken and renewed?
There doesn’t have to be any wondering. The Christian Artist is here.
I have the great honor of unveiling a collection of 3 amazing paintings by a local Christian Artist, Jacob Cecil, on my next post. This collection is called, “Reflections of Redemption and the Trinity.” So, stay tuned, that post should be up sometime this week.