Love is an integral component of the arts and various arts are an expression of worship for our Creator. It all goes hand-in-hand. But some people believe that all you need is a love of the arts to produce great works. I believe it is much more than that. I have always loved all things artistic: dancing, singing, painting, writing. But to love a thing in and of itself creates a very shallow, almost hollow love. I have been dancing since I was three years old, yet it wasn’t until my college years that I saw my previous love of the arts as selfish.
A Christian artist often has two jobs that stem from the love God has for them: to artistically express love back to our Creator and to express His love to the audience. In order to express love back to God, we must recognize that all things, like our ability to create artistic pieces, to move through space and tell a story through our art, come from Him. Whatever our artistic craft may be, we cannot do any of it without Him and His influence in our lives. Our art is completely dependent on God and His revelation of Himself because, while He created out of nothing, we have to create from what He has already given us. Since we are made in His image, our impulse to create comes from our motivation to imitate God in the things we create. Therefore, we have the choice to acknowledge, appreciate, and embrace humility as we recognize His overwhelming influence. Once we make that choice, we are consumed by a love for our Creator that pours out of every dance step, paintbrush stroke, or musical note. As Paul requests in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritualact of worship.” It is from God’s overwhelming love and mercy he bestows on us that we return that love through worship, through our art.
To express God’s love to the audience may seem like all Christian art must be lovey-dovey. The artist must paint hearts and rainbows and the dancer must always dance with a smile. But I feel to express God’s compassion to His children, the artist must be ready to meet them where they are. The artist must not shy away from trying issues. In this way, God’s love is expressed through Truth. Ephesians 4:15 calls us to speak the truth in love that we may all grow closer to Christ. So a piece of art can address chaos, death, and addiction yet still speak love into the lives of the audience.
This past season I was blessed to participate in a piece called “Legacy.” The message of the piece focused on addiction and the many people God places in the addict’s life as a steady presence during their personal struggles. Choreographed to “Bridge over Troubled Waters,” the dance was a tool to reach out to the audience and raise alcohol awareness. Our goal was to tell our own testimonies and speak into the lives of those who are addicted or families of someone suffering an addiction. By dancing, we drew a certain issue to light, addressed it, then tried to convey hope and love to the ones who heard our message. As artists, we cannot forsake our call to bring the darkness to light. By revealing the darkness for what it is, we can overpower it with the light and the love of God by speaking truth into the lives of our audience.
Our God is a God of love. As such, we artists have a responsibility to use our artistic abilities to create works that return love for love: both to God and to man.