Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Creativity Becomes Flesh

I was an art major in college. By mistake, really. My love of film and video took me down many roads in my education. And in order to get my chance behind the camera, I had to paint, sculpt, and engage in some bizarre performance art. (Don?t ask.)

In the beginning, all of my art theory classes and time in the studio seemed unnecessary. ?I just want to shoot and edit,? I would say under my breath while painting my fifth bowl of fruit. But it wasn?t long before my annoyance turned into appreciation. Once your energy and time is dominated by the act of creating, you realize how salutary and therapeutic it can be.

Yes, I came to realize that I enjoyed creating art of many different forms. But the reasoning behind why humans in general enjoy creating art became even more intriguing to me.

What is it about a painting, a novel, a photograph, or a film that can create a connection in our minds and in our souls? Why do we humans spend so much time expressing how we feel through writing symphonies and choreographing performances on stage? What is it that we can say through our art that we can?t seem to express as eloquently in any other way? And why?

Fast-forward ten years, and here I am, still intrigued by this question. It?s a good thing too, considering my job is to work with an entire team of talented artists and provide them with the best possible environment in which to write, design, and innovate. Thus, I spend a good portion of my time learning as much as I can about the creative process and what really drives ?the artist.? There are many explanations on the surface, but I believe there?s a deeper connection.

A God connection.

For those of us in ministry, we acknowledge that God is the ultimate teacher. We use his Word as our guide to make decisions every day. But for those of us in the creative field, how often do we view God as a teacher of art? As an instructor of creativity?

Just read the first page of the Bible and you?ll see that God is creative. He?s an inventor. He?s an artist.[quote]God is creative. He?s an inventor. He?s an artist.[/quote]

In Psalms, David wrote, ?God?s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon? (The Message, Psalm 19:1).

?God-craft.? What a lovely way to describe it.

As storytellers and artists we can learn from God?not only as an artist?but also as an art teacher.

My art professors in college didn?t just show us finished works of art and say, ?Class dismissed!? Instead, they taught us their processes and made sure we understood how and why they created their art. As a student, I would have been foolish to overlook the reasoning and miss the heart behind the methods.

True, it?s wonderful to admire a final piece as an observer. But as artists, we have an opportunity to learn even more and improve our own works when we stop to ask, ?Why??

For example, there is much to discover about the act of creating when one considers God?s creative act: the story of God becoming flesh. Why? Why would God have taken on a cloak of skin and come to this world to live such a short life?[quote]He was solving the problem of sin?of this broken, fallen creation. He chose the ultimate poetry of redeeming the beauty by dying an ugly death.[/quote]

He was solving the problem of sin?of this broken, fallen creation. He chose the ultimate poetry of redeeming the beauty by dying an ugly death.

God becoming flesh was an innovative solution.[quote]God becoming flesh was an innovative solution.[/quote]

God wrapped flesh around Himself?the ultimate expression of love?and bound Himself to the earth.? It?s a beautiful image.

Our Father is so creative.

Because of this creation, the world was never the same.

It?s no wonder we humans, who are created in the image of God, find so much joy in finding imaginative ways to communicate. Our own Father does the same thing.

He had communicated throughout the Old Testament through prophets and visions. But in order to deliver his ultimate message?redemption from sin?He became the work of art who could connect with us intellectually and emotionally. It was such a creative way to communicate.

Doesn?t it make sense, then, that we can do the same thing when we want to relay a message to our own congregations? When mere words fail us as we try to convey something deep, layered, complicated, or intangible, we can turn to our Father?s example.

For me, that?s the connection. We were created in the image of the Creator, so of course, we desire to create.[quote]We were created in the image of the Creator, so of course, we desire to create.[/quote]

I would like to think that God delights in us when we strive to create. He loves when we have a message inside of us that we want to share so much that we stop long enough to ask why and how. Then we struggle, and write, and revise, and shoot, and paint, and rehearse, and design, and end up with our own works of art that glorify Him.

When you are stuck, overwhelmed, all out of ideas, and believe that nothing you do communicates all you want it to, find peace in the knowledge that God himself didn?t use just one way to teach his people. Burning bushes, stone tablets, floods, dreams, angels, birds, and of course, His own Son, were all ways God relayed messages to us. So don?t limit yourself. Be encouraged.

At the same time, there can be a certain amount of pressure associated with finding the perfect creative way to express your message. Creative work has its own unique pressures because it?s often a gamble. God is God, so He knows all, and He knew how His works of art would be received. As mere mortals, we don?t know for sure if our efforts will change someone?s life or bore them to tears. We don?t know if a project will stick, or hit our audience?s hearts in the way we imagined. This can lead to days, weeks, or months of agonizing over the decisions we have made about our projects.

In the midst of your frustration and second-guessing, remember that your creative talents are a gift from God and, yes, He wants you to share them. But God?s message will be spoken throughout the Earth, with or without our intervention. Jesus said that even if the people kept quiet, the stones would shout praise (Luke 19:40 MSG).

If you have the talent of an artist, embrace your responsibility, knowing that you have the ability to speak to the world in a powerful way. Your creativity can teach and inspire in a way that truly connects people with the God that loves them. So give it all you?ve got. Don?t slack. You were made for this.

And once you?ve done all you can do, you can rest in the fact that God is really the one at work, and you can celebrate that you got to be a part of it.? After all, we are his works of art as well (Ephesians 2:10).

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