Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thoughts on Art and Beauty

Art is more than just that which can be mass-produced and sold at cheap prices to the masses.  Art should take time.  It requires time in prayer, and contemplation.  It should seek to bring beauty and truth to the world.  It should be enjoyed.  It should provoke thought.  Art should give us a glimpse of our gloriously beautiful  God.  It should never be cheapened. And yes... art is for all--the poor, the beggar, the working middle class, and the rich.  Art that brings glory and honor to God shouldn't be enjoyed only by the rich.  Beauty is for ALL of us to enjoy.  God made us with 5 senses that we might be able to enjoy those things which build us up and bring good to us.  He wants us to enjoy His gifts.

But sometimes we forget the importance of joy and beauty.   The sick, the enslaved, the oppressed--ALL need beauty.  They may not know it or value it.  Their focus is on surviving.  But somewhere deep inside there's a desire for it.  Why else would someone have a big screen TV, and yet be on gov't assistance?  Why would a slave have a piano that no one in their home can play, and yet have very little food to eat?  Why would someone living in a tin shack, yet plant flowers around it?  All of us need beauty. It's not optional.  It's not a luxury.  Art shouldn't be something we create when we've finished all of the "important" things.  It shouldn't be something we expect to get cheaply or for free.  Art costs and its worth the cost when it gives us a glimpse of our Creator. We should be willing to invest in art.

The enemy will use his counterfeits in order to lure us away from the one true God, promising to fulfill that desire for beauty.  He takes beauty and profanes it.  He will take a woman's beauty and cheapen it--inappropriately emphasizing her sensuality.  He will take the beauty of music and use it to portray and promote all manner of wickedness.  He will use art and creativity in such a way that instead of bringing out he best in people, it stirs up all sorts of fleshly cravings, and then tell you that you can't help it.  (He's a liar. Don't believe it.) It's no wonder we have such a difficult time controlling the fleshly desires.  Satan feeds the desires of our flesh.

Beauty today is prostituted.  It's used as a means of achieving financial gain.  I don't mean that one shouldn't be paid for creating beauty.  (Beauty is extremely valuable.) I mean music, dance,poetry and visual images are used to market and sell.  That's its primary use in our culture.  There is very little appreciation of beauty for the sake of enjoying beauty itsself--apart from its usefulness.

Followers of Jesus should lead the world in creativity, and beauty.  Why should we follow the world's example?  They should be trying to emulate us.  Now, that's a paradigm shift? It's not enough to simply speak against the wickedness that permeates our culture.  We must provide the alternative, not just for other Christians--for the world.  We must introduce art as it was intended--to give us a glimpse of the beauty of the Supreme Creator.  So how can we do this?  God is NOT calling us to retreat into our "christian bubbles" refusing to engage with the culture.  I believe we must begin at the feet of Jesus.  We must retreat into His presence, getting His perspective, devoting our hearts to His alone--gazing on His beauty.  Allow Him to fill us with His beauty.  Then go.  Share the beauty with the world.  How do we keep from being tainted by the world's belief's and ideals?  Never compromise.  Be in constant communion with the Father.  Set aside periods of isolation in order to be saturated with His beauty and truth.  The world will become a more beautiful place if we do.

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