This past Thursday I bid farewell to my fine arts students for the spring semester. We started the class by discussing the fact that being a Christian has the potential to make one a better artist, since we understand that we are creating in God’s image and for His glory. As we came full circle at the close of the semester, I reversed the question:
Can being an artist make us better Christians?
At first glance, it sounds like heresy! But take a moment to compare the artistic process with the Christian’s path to discipleship:
- Artists must fail again and again, continually picking themselves up and trying yet again, before finally succeeding in publishing that novel or gaining the facility to perform that Chopin piece with excellence. In a similar way, the Christian will stumble and fall day after day in their Christian walk, and must discipline themselves to continually pick themselves up and stay in the race. – Hebrews 12:1-2
- Every artist has a message, or an inner truth, that they hope to share with the world. Good artists set themselves apart by doing a superb job of pointing their audience to the unified message of the piece. Similarly, the Christian bases their life on THE Truth, and good Christians set themselves apart by doing a superb job of allowing each aspect of their life to point to Christ. – Ephesians 5:1-2
- Becoming a great artist requires great self-sacrifice. They must endure the daily anguish and discipline of perfecting their skills, and eventually must let their work go, releasing it into the world to take on a life of its own, while a small part of themselves is put to death. Similarly, the Christian must take up their cross daily, continually dying to themselves and their own desires in order to live a life that is all about Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:5
Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, wrote the following:
Almost every definition I find of being a Christian is also a definition of being an artist.
Am I saying that one must be artistic to become a good Christian? Of course not! But I do believe that God, the Creator, was the First Artist. Each time we engage in the artistic process, we reflect His image. Because of this, the path to Christian discipleship provides insight which aids the artist in his journey.
And if you think about it, perhaps the opposite is also true.