The Christian Artist is faced with a dilemma when we consider a particular view of the church. Some would say that the Christian life should be marked by a love for God and not of the things of this world. Certainly that would mean that Christians shouldn’t waste their time and money on useless frills, decoration, and art. Why should we bother with the things that will one day burn up. It doesn’t matter. “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.”
I don’t know about you but when I read the words of Jesus, I wonder as well, should I not store up treasures! The wonderful thing about the Christian journey is that seeming paradox and confusing issues can be worked out when we dig a bit deeper, consider other scripture and prayerfully consider the ideas in God’s word.
Certainly Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure.” Why is he saying this? Because our first love is to be found primarily in a relationship with God our Father, through Jesus and evidenced by the Holy Spirit. How can we as lovers of Beauty, Art, Music, Dance, Literature not be storing up treasures!
The person who believes that to be a follower of Christ means that he or she avoid the things in this life, in order to be more holy, is what the apostle Paul called an Ascetic. Asceticism is defined as “severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.”
Paul says in I Timothy 4:1-5 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
Here we see clearly that God has created many things for our enjoyment and to reject them is to forget that God himself is the source of all good things! God himself spoke the world in to begin and said it was “Good.” To avoid certain gifts of God then should not be done because we consider doing so a measure of our religiousness. Instead we are called to worship as we see all of creation clearly cared for by God’s common grace. The flowers bloom and sunsets glow and we through them are drawn to the glory of God.
So in the context of being a patron and lover of the Arts we have a great opportunity to enjoy God as we enjoy his creation. To love a great meal, to smell fresh baked bread, to see the laughter of a child, to look at the leaves from the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to look with wonder at a painting, photograph or film, to listen to instruments and voices, melodies, harmonies and rhythm all are an opportunity to appreciate and “receive with thanksgiving” the gifts of God.
When I love the good things in this world as a gift of God, I have placed them in their correct context. So today we have the opportunity to look around and be amazed at the wonder of God and his creation and also consider the amazing work of humanity.
So how do you find a balance between loving God and not finding yourself “storing up treasures.”