Written by Grace Jones, WBC Ministry Intern
Have you ever watched a film that really struck a nerve with you, and when you woke up the next morning it was still on your mind? Do you have a song that stirs up emotional memories for you each time you listen to it? Is there a specific piece of music that makes you want to dance every time you hear it? The creative arts are a wonderful and powerful thing! Music, visual arts, design, theatre, dance and writing have, for thousands of years and across a variety of cultures, been a creative form of communication for people as they express emotion, investigate the world around them, and delve into the depths of the human heart.
Did you know that the very first thing God chooses to reveal to us about himself in the Bible is that he is a Creator? The very opening sentence of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). We see all throughout the creation account that God is immensely creative. The colour, design and diversity of God’s good creation shows us clearly that our God is a God with imagination, with unique thought, with vision and with a breathtaking ability to bring about something from nothing.
God created the world as a beautiful place. From the outset, we see that God has an appreciation for the aesthetically pleasing. He is the source of beauty and the beautiful things we see in the world are but a small reflection of the beauty of God himself.
We also know that, since we’re made in God’s image (Gen 1:27) we have inherited something of God’s creative abilities. Therefore, our creative endeavours have value because they reflect the creative heart of God. Likewise, there is value in creating beautiful things, simply because they echo the beauty of God. This ought to shift how we think about the creative realm. The creative arts (music, art, film, theatre and writing to name just a few) are valuable forms of expression that, like every good thing God has given us, ought to be harnessed and used in ways that point our hearts back to our Creator.
There are a number of examples throughout the Bible where we see the creative arts being used to magnify God and redirect our hearts back to Him. The book of Psalms is filled with creative expression, as it documents the lyrics to many songs written and sung by God’s people. These songs played a significant role in reminding Israel of important truths about God, His character, His promises, and their own relationship to Him. The lyrics and poems contained in the Psalms are highly expressive and deeply emotional. Combined with music itself, they allow us to access and give expression to parts of ourselves we wouldn’t perhaps otherwise be able to reach. Our praises to God, our shouts of joy and our cries of pain, sorrow and shame, find greater expression, and perhaps even sincerity, when we allow the creative arts to access and unlock the inner depths of our hearts. The book of 1 Chronicles details the large emphasis King David put on music as it documents the role of priests with full time jobs dedicated to music ministry. Surely such an investment ought to indicate to us something of the importance, value and power in such a ministry.
Beyond this, other creative forms are also referenced in the Bible. When the Israelites were instructed through Moses to build the temple, God commissioned them to use skilled craftsman and artisans to create specific artworks and items for the temple. God required skilful designers, labourers, artists and builders to come together to create a space that would symbolically ‘house’ God himself. Their skill and artistry was to be used as a visual prompt to point to God’s glory and majesty. In Ezekiel, a form of what we might call street theatre is used to communicate with God’s people Israel. The prophet Ezekiel is commissioned by God to physically enact a symbolic representation of God’s judgement on Jerusalem. It’s essentially theatre! A compelling, controversial, visual and attention-grabbing display of God’s message to his rebellious people. In Exodus, after Israel have been brought out of Egypt’s yoke of slavery, Miriam and the other women dance in joy and celebration, giving praise to God. In 2 Samuel, when the ark of the Lord arrives in David’s city, we are told that David dances with all his might. In both these instances, we see full bodied expressions of worship to God and it is clear that this is pleasing to him.
If God is creative, if He appreciates beauty, if He commissions actors and artisans and is delighted by our songs of praise and our dances of worship, then we too ought to value the realm of the creative arts. Surely it is an area that the church ought to be promote.
At the end of the day, we as Christians have been called to share the good news of the gospel. It is a life changing message and the most important story ever told. Since we have this charge to communicate such a crucial message to others, it makes sense that we should use every tool at our disposal. Creative ministries in areas of music, art, theatre, film, dance and design (just to name a few) have the potential to be deeply powerful ways that we can point others to God. The intellectual and the rational are important. We have been given capable minds by God himself, and we are to put our logic and our reason to good use, that we might know God better and that he might be glorified through our thinking. But we have also been given emotions and creativity, and these also ought to be harnessed so that we might know and understand our Creator in profound ways that move us and stir us right down to the depths of our core. To that end, the creative ministries have something special to offer us all.