I don’t normally think of myself as an artist, but being made in the image of the Creator God, all of us have a bit of that God-given creativity in us, I think. We have all been given different creative instincts; we’ve all been called to create something good using the raw materials with which we’ve been entrusted. For many, art is seen as a mostly indulgent, frivolous undertaking. But that’s a narrow view of art. Art takes a million forms, and while it can certainly distract or dehumanize, it can also be used to liberate. Art is liberating when it turns our focus away from ourselves — turns us outward, possibly even upward.
In his excellent book Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity (InterVarsity Press), singer, songwriter and Biblical scholar Michael Card makes the connection between art and the biblical prophets, emphasizing the generally overlooked spiritual significance of the imagination.
“Through the prophets we come to understand that God is out to recapture all that we are or can hope to be,” he writes, “not just the mind or the heart but the mind of the heart, the heart of the mind, which is the imagination.” Looking at the biblical prophets, we see that the imagination is recaptured mostly through images and parables, but also, at times, through what can only be considered “bizarre activity.” The burden of the prophets was to show the people of God the error of their ways, to plea with them to change course, to return to God, and to do so without wasting another day.
The need for the recapturing of the imagination continues today. And there are few tools better suited to this task than art, which in a million different ways can turn us outward and upward, pointing beyond ourselves and to the one in whose image we have each of us been fearfully and wonderfully made.
[Painting credit: Scott Erickson/derekwebb.com]