The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. Exodus 31:1-5
A heightened sense of creativity is usually the first telltale sign of an artist. A toddler who uses the shape of an angle for a nose, instead of a dot or a circle; a child who climbs up to the piano keys and strikes out a melody he heard; a young girl who, despite not having taken a single dance class, spins with grace and poise. This is usually how we notice that someone has that special quality, that prodigious creative spark, which we hope over time will develop into a brilliant flame. It’s a joy to some, and disappointment to others, that exceptional creative talent is so often, as they say, “something you’re just born with.” It’s true, some are called to be artists, and some are not. But is there more to this explanation than we’re realizing? How can we as artists better understand our unique—or perhaps eccentric–role as creative people?
In the Genesis account of creation, we find a God who has created all things out of nothing, and sees it as good. God, as Creator, is thus the origin of creativity itself. We are not only residents of his creation; we are also his creation, made exclusively in His image. We should understand that our creativity is given by God with the same purpose as our other distinctly human attributes: they reflect God and bring Him glory. We seek justice because God is just. We want to do good because God is good. And we love to create because God is creative.
This truth can bring a great deal of consolation. As artists, it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of neglect from the church in terms of our vocation. At times we have felt like pariahs for pursuing a “secular lifestyle” in the arts. It sometimes feels like there is little or no place in our doctrines and theologies for the freewheeling ecstasy of artistic expression. Compared to doctrine, that at times seems rigidly black and white; the sensuality of creative exploration might appear hedonistic, chaotic, and ungodly. There is some truth to this notion; artists over the centuries have been known to use art as a vehicle for such hedonism, chaos, and ungodliness. But if we are to grow in our understanding of the Father, then we cannot ignore any one of His attributes. And if we examine Scripture and still deny that God loves art and creativity, we have created a false God.
In Exodus 31, we see that God not only makes room for art, He commands it. He wants it. We see that art is to be made in a way that brings joy, in a way that communicates His presence. Art is God’s gift to us, a gift to be given back to Him. Like Bezalel, artists have been specially equipped to be creators. Our creations bring glory to God, the Creator of all things, the inspiration for our work, and the source of our light.
Julian is our guest blogger this week. He is one of our Actors Vocation Group leader