Using our artistic gifts to glorify God

Feb 10, 2020 | Eden Champagne

Every year, a dear friend writes this in my birthday card: “Having you in my life makes living much more colourful.” 

I’m not sure if she intentionally says this every year, but I’ve noticed that it comes up a lot. Honestly, I can see where she’s coming from. I typically wear lots of colours, patterns, and mismatched florals. I may even be caught with paint on my hands. 

I am a person who enjoys the creative process, and I always have, ever since I was a child.

I’ve been told that I used to love creating “mud pies” with dirt and sticks as a kid. I began taking art lessons around the age of four, when I also started to take dance classes. My dad, who is a very sporty guy, kindly offered to be my coach in any sport I wanted to try, but I told him that I was not interested in any sports–I wanted to dance and paint! 

I am thankful that my parents encouraged me in all of my artistic ventures throughout my childhood. There were always a few projects on the go at once, whether it was building a dollhouse to decorate the rooms, learning to sew my own fashions, or practising tap dancing (loudly!) at home. There is not a time I can remember when I was not creating, in some form or another. 

Creator God, and creative humans in his image

As I reflect on all this, I cannot help but see the parallels between a Creator God and the human beings that he creates in his image. The Bible speaks about God as creator and sustainer of all things. 

In Genesis 1, we see the unfolding of God’s created world. At each step in the creation story, he proclaims that his work is “good”: the birds, fish, plants and stars are all “good.” Yet, for the pinnacle of all of God’s created work, he makes humans in his image (Genesis 1:31) and declares that they are “very good”! 

Jesus does not merely “create” in the sense that he has a “creative” characteristic or talent. He is The Creator, such that there is nothing in all of creation that has not been created and purposed for and by Jesus. 

Colossians 1:15-17 says, 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” 

This is one of the things that makes God so different from us. While we may experiment and create a painting out of a carefully selected palette of paints, or create a song from a combination of instruments and voices, we create from a pre-created set of materials.

Let’s take a minute to just process that God created, creates, and always will create from nothingness. 

Creative gifts 

While God is the only one who is the ultimate Creator, God did create humans to reflect his glory. One of those ways we reflect God’s glory is through the various giftings that God bestows on humans. 

Consider how light reflects. When white light hits a glass prism, it reflects in a spectrum of rainbow colours. Jesus is the light, and he has reflected his glory in different arrays and combinations of colours in each individual he has ever created. 

Ephesians 3:10 says, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”

Speaking about spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says,

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 

Some of the giftings Paul goes on to list include wisdom, knowledge, and faith.

Does Paul specifically mention artistic talents such as dancing, painting, or photography in his list? No. But the premise that Paul describes here is important for us to grasp. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts, that are all meant to reflect, or show off, different parts of his character to the world, so that he may be glorified. 

If we were all talented in the same way, the expanse of what could be expressed about God would be limited. Just as the body is not complete without all of its members, so Christ’s church is not complete without the individual giftings of each member. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts, that are all meant to reflect, or show off, different parts of his character to the world, so that he may be glorified. 

Every gifting from our loving Creator is valuable.

God cares about the gifts he has given you. God desires to work through those giftings, to be glorified through you.

The value of creative gifts 

In Scripture, we see a God who not only gives different gifts, but who uses those gifts for his glory. 

In 1 Chronicles 29:1-5, before King David dies and passes on the throne to his son, Solomon, he gives the following commands regarding the new temple that is to be built.:

“Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?”

What I find so interesting about this passage is the importance of two things: 

  1. Costly worship: David commands those who are listening to give their best for this temple of God. To bring their finest jewels, and materials. In Romans 12:1, Paul urges his readers “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” 

What we create is not to be the object of worship, but the process of creating something may draw us into a deeper place of worship. 

Art and beauty serve to usher us into the presence of God.

Art also helps to make the invisible inner workings of the Spirit visible. Whether the content of our artwork is overtly or covertly inspired by the gospel, it can illuminate something about the Godhead to the seeking and watching world. 

In his book “The Artisan Soul”, Erwin Raphael McManus captures this idea: 

“The unique distinction of being created in the image of God is that what we create is informed by the invisible at the same time as it materializes the invisible.”

Our artwork, therefore, in its variety of forms, can shine light on the tenderness of the Father’s heart, the darkness of Calvary, and the victory of the resurrection. 

Our artwork can be a beautiful means of beginning conversations with friends who may not know Jesus. Our artwork can be a springboard to share glimpses of the gospel we profess.

  1. The value of trained, skillful workers: God uses skilled craftsmen to build the new temple. God explicitly desires the temple to be a place that is well-crafted, that it may reflect his glory.

How much more then, as indwelt believers, the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), ought we to use our artistic giftings and skills to point to the glory of God?

 Our artwork can be a springboard to share glimpses of the gospel we profess.

So, now what?

I would encourage you to pray and ask God to show you how to use the talents he has given you to bring glory to his name. For me, this sometimes looks like choreographing dances to gospel-inspired songs, or creating artwork inspired by a specific scripture. 

Furthermore, even if you don’t feel particularly skilled in art, how can you engage with artworks created by other people, to spur you on in your own faith? 

Music, dance, art, photography are all gifts from God. Here are some works of art that have helped me to come back to the heart of God again and again.

Dance:

V3 dance. V3 dance is a dance company which seeks to explore gospel themes. V3 stands for “victory through vision and dance”.

Music:

UPPERROOM worship. A worship and prayer community centred around Jesus. Receiving love from God and then returning it back to God.

Maverick City Music. Also called TRIBL, this is a worship community that seeks to create live, moment-driven songs, facilitating impactful connection with God, together.

Artwork: 

Bible Project

Bible Project creates animated and illustrated videos to explore the books and themes of the Bible.

This article was written as part of the Writing Mentorship with our P2C-Students Editorial team.

Artwork by Eden Champagne.

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About the Author

Eden Champagne

York University Master’s student in Cognitive Psychology, studying the benefits of dance for individuals with neurological conditions and their caregivers. University of Guelph graduate in Psychology. Eden is also passionate about painting, calligraphy, dancing, and poetry.

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