Obviously a big part of my life!
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about creativity and its role in the life of a believer. God himself was creative. The very first thing we are told about him is that he created. And we, as his “image bearers” were given some of that creativity ourselves.
But how do churches treat those of a creative bent? How do churches view the use of artistic skill in worship? Truthfully? In my experience? Not well. Many churches are willing to accept poorly rehearsed musicians – “It’s for Jesus and Jesus knows the hearts of those who are singing so it doesn’t matter if it’s good.” Would you say the same thing about a sermon? “The pastor has a good heart so it doesn’t really matter that his sermon didn’t make sense.”
God valued music as a part of worship. In I Chronicles 15:22, we meet Chenanaiah (also spelled Kenaniah) – “Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was in charge of the singing; he gave instruction in singing because he was skillful”. God had set apart the Levites as the priesthood. Their only job was to tend to the spiritual life of God’s people. And out of that “set aside” group, Chenaniah was set aside to lead the singing and teach others. That same passage also mentions instrumentalists who were Levites. Music done well obviously matters to God.
The life of C. S. Lewis provides another inspiration, this time in the area of writing. The following is an excerpt from a short devotional I recently read entitled “C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create” –
By the time Lewis committed his life to Jesus Christ at the age of 32, he was already on the path to a successful career as an academic and writer. While Lewis’s newfound Christian faith didn’t cause him to abandon his work as an author, his conversion clearly caused him to reimagine his work as service to God and others. As Lewis once wrote in a letter, “The question is not whether we should bring God into our work or not. We certainly should and must. The question is whether we should simply (a) Bring Him in in the dedication of our work to Him, in the integrity, diligence, and humility with which we do it or also (b) Make His professed and explicit service our job.” Lewis faith didn’t change his work. It changed his relation to his work. (Emphasis mine)
I see so many fussy articles on the web these days about the types of songs that are being sung on Sunday mornings and whether or not the praise band should be well-rehearsed to say nothing of whether or not there should be a praise band at all. People are so quick to judge the motives of those who are putting their skill to work in the service.
For those of us who are artists and musicians and writers and dancers . . . could you do me a favor? Pray for those involved in regular artistic ministry in your church. Pray that they will be steadfastly focused on their calling. Pray that everything they contribute – whether they play an instrument, sing, use their graphic design skills on the announcement slides, create holiday banners, or perform a liturgical dance – comes from a surrendered heart that humbly seeks to serve. God is still inspiring artistic individuals to creatively draw attention to him. Songwriters are still creating lyrics that can touch a heart and move someone to tears. Writers are still crafting powerful statements that will impact their reader’s lives. Artists are creating breathtaking paintings and sculptures that reflect their love for God.
We, as fellow believers, need to celebrate their calling and support them in prayer. Sharing one more cranky article on Facebook will only serve to discourage and divide.
One of the things I love about the Bible App I use on my phone and iPad is the Devotional feature. I can choose a devotional AND have the app remind me each day. And this latest devotional is hitting me HARD. I just have to share yesterday’s devotional reading and the scripture it referenced. What you are about to read is not my creation. It’s from “When Faith Catches Fire” by Samuel Rodriguez and Dr. Robert Crosby.
Rev. 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
There is a new song arising! Can you hear it? It is deep within and longing to rise from a sacred place of silent hope to be a sound that will pierce the darkness. There is a new song arising!
This new song will not be sung exclusively by a black chorus, a white ensemble, a Latino band, or an Asian soloist. No! This new song will be sung by a multiethnic, multi-generational, kingdom-culture choir washed in the blood of the Lamb. A church united.
But rest assured, this song rises not out of programmed promptings or emotional exuberance, but rather out of the depths, out of the leading of God’s spirit at work in the hearts of surrendered men and women. It is not born out of hype but rather of hope.
It is time to sing a new song! The new song reminds us of our identity. So who are we? We must respond with clarity, conviction, and courage and affirm the following:
- We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
- We are a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)
- We are a people of the Word (Matthew 4:4)
- We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
- We are prophetic and not pathetic
- We are disciples, witnesses, and Christ followers (Matthew 28:16-20)
- We are children of the cross (Romans 8:17), fruit of the empty tomb (John 12:24), and products of the upper room (Acts 2)
- We are the redeemed of the Lord (Psalm 107:2)
- We are forgiven, free, and favored (Galatians 5:1)
- We are called and chosen (1 Peter 2:9)
- We are warriors and worshippers (Psalm 144:1)
We are not first and foremost brown, black, white, or yellow, Hispanic, Charismatic, Pentecostal, or reformed.
We are above all the born-again, blood-washed, Spirit-empowered children of the Living God.
One of my favorite singers of all time. Love the song quite a bit too!