Being engaged in Christian forms of drama, music, art and creative writing is more than exhibiting a skillIt is a means of pointing others towards God. Taking these creative forms of expression and using them for good is a powerful way to implement an important message.
It's through our five senses that we absorb and learn from our surroundings. Using artistic methods allows us to absorb the message behind the art. When the message being illustrated is one of forgiveness, love, grace, etc., we have portrayed a glimpse of who our Creator is with the hope of awakening, in the observer, a desire to know more.
However, using illustrations to bring about the gospel message is nothing new. Even Jesus, when explaining a heavenly truth would paint a picture from everyday scenarios. In Matthew chapter seven he explains the parable of two builders. Rather than just stating: obey my words, he beautifully paints a pictureon our hearts and mindsto help us grasp the depths of the meaning. He said those who hear my words and acts on them are like a man who builds his house upon a rock. When the rain, floods and wind beat against his house, it endured because it was on the rock. Then he went on to paint another picture. Those who hear my words and do not act upon them are like a man who builds his house upon the sand. When the rain, floods and wind beat against his house, it fell. The illustration of the rock impresses on our mind the stability found in Jesus, while the sand represents anything else we build our lives on. The picture Jesus painted allows us to understand his point more clearly.
Our church's college age pastor announced that we would be taking a missions trip to Ireland that year. Although I had a heart for missions, I had never been on a mission's trip before. This would be a perfect opportunity, I thought. I immediately signed up. As the weeks went by everyone was assigned to an area of specialty. We were given two choices to focus on for ministry in Ireland: 1) we could be a part of the music band playing an instrument or leading worship, or 2) we could join the drama team and perform skits to Christian songs. That should be easy enough, right? Well, for me, there was one teensy wincey problem involved. I couldn't sing if my life depended on it, and the only thing I could play on the piano was "Mary had a little lamb" and that obviously wouldn't have worked out. Drama was equally as bad. Just the thought of performing in front of a crowd of people made my knees knock and my cheeks blush. What was I going to do now, back out of the trip? I couldn't do that. I really felt like God wanted me to go; and if I wanted to minister to others, I was going to have to come out of my shell sometime. Soon after, the appointed drama leader approached me with times for practice. Despite my shyness, I managed to learn all the skits. It was certainly a time of growth for me, both spiritually and socially. By the time we left for Ireland, I had learned and could perform a handful of dramas effortlessly. Our first performance was in the center of a busy shopping center in Cork. We set our sound system up and in-between our pastor's short messages, we performed a handful of dramas. Before long, crowds began to form around us as they soaked up the message of Christ through presentation and music.
Music has been a part of my life since I was young. My dad plays both the keyboard and guitar. As children, my sister would do most of the singing, while my dad played a song; my mom and I would be in the background listening quietly. Mom and I have the same singing voice (if you can call it that), which isn't very interesting. Despite the fact I took both drum and piano lessons, I'm no better than someone who has never cracked open a music book. It just wasn't my gifting.
Nevertheless, music is a beautiful way to express our adoration towards God and honor Him outwardly. Jesus was discussing with a Samaritan woman concerning worship. There was a conflict between the Samaritans and Jews where to worship God. But Jesus set it straight when he said, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). In other words, he isn't looking for grand voices (although it would be nice) or a specific place; He's looking for willing heartshearts that are fully devoted to Him. Whether we sing with our voices or play an instrument with our hands, what really matters is that we do it from a heart of devotion to our God.
Christian art has been a somewhat controversial subject since the Reformation period. In fact, the Reformation was the biggest contributor in the decline of religious arts such as paintings and sculptures. Even in many circles today the mix of Christianity and the arts is a very sensitive subject mostly due to the second commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4). Some people see it as God's condemnation on artwork that depicts religious images.
Others have a very different view on Christian art. They see it as a tangible display of Biblical concepts, images and heartfelt expressions. They view it not only as art, but an image with an important message behind it. A message that reminds those admiring it that there is a Creator who orchestrates the world we live in with colors, shapes and images with the aim of pointing us back to Him.
Since I was a teenager, I've loved to write stories. The first story I ever wrote was a short fictional tale about a group of teenage girls and the typical life challenges young girls face. I remember my sister's friend picking the first part up and reading it before I had a chance to finish the story, but it was enough to get her hooked. She impatiently wanted to know when I was going to finish so she could see how it all ended. This was only the beginning of my adventure in writing.
Writing is a gift, like any other, that can be used for evil or good. Writing is a tool that opens up another world to the reader. Song of Solomon is a wonderful example. The poet writes of his own love story highlighting the courtship, the wedding and the marriage. Although the interpretations vary, we can't deny the eloquent details of their love threaded throughout the book. Solomon describes the Shulammite's beauty in great detail, "Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes Your lips are like a scarlet thread Your neck is like the tower of David" (4:1-4). Taking the book at face value, it depicts the God intended plan for pure love leading into the loveliness of marriage. Even centuries later, these writings with their articulate style have become an inspiration to those who read them.
Talent, without the desire to honor God, can be misused. Having a talent in the arts is really a gift from God waiting to be used for His glory.