Created to Create: Elizabeth Cassada
Not a day goes by in which you do not interact with or participate in art on some level.
Think about your day today. Maybe you didn’t visit an art museum, take in a Broadway show, or undertake the writing of the next great American novel, but I’d be willing to bet you listened to a song, binge-watched a show on Netflix, or read something other than the label on a soup can (even though said soup can label was designed by someone to entice you to purchase it and could serve as the inspiration for the next Andy Warhol-esque pop art masterpiece).
Everyone is an art curator. You select the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the books you read, and the décor in your house. You pick them because they appeal to your taste and can be interwoven with common threads in your life. They entertain you. They enchant you. The messages they convey and the styles in which they express their messages speak to your heart and imagination. Or you simply appreciate them for their beauty.
Everyone is an art critic. You choose to listen to singer/songwriters instead of rock bands. You find hip-hop dancing exciting and ballet boring. You think modern art looks more like something you finger-painted in kindergarten. You love musicals and can’t stand horror movies. You’re a fan of Robert Frost or Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You’re addicted to Stranger Things but Downton Abbey bores you to tears. Whether you voice it or not, you have an opinion about the art you interact with on a daily basis. And that art moves you…impacts you…motivates you…makes you feel something…stirs your soul…awakens those aching places inside of you.
Everyone is also an artist. Maybe you don’t consider yourself an aspiring Monet. Maybe you’re not a Mozart-caliber musical genius. Maybe you’re not a painter or a writer or a violinist or a dancer. Maybe your art studio looks more like the room where you homeschool your kids. Maybe your stage more closely resembles a counseling office or a coffee shop or a classroom or your kitchen. Maybe you have a gift for seeing abandoned, broken things as beautiful and that gift manifests itself in restoring furniture or opening your home to hurting children or performing surgery on the victim of a near-death car accident.
You were created with a certain flavor of creativity by the creative Creator of the universe. And your creative zest will flavor the culture around you like no one everyone else’s will. What lights you up? What are you particularly good at doing? What do you love to do? Whatever it is, you were made for this. You were created to create.
As artist and filmmaker Franky Schaeffer, son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, says in his book Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christianity and the Arts, “If there is one area that surely sets man clearly apart from the rest of the animal kingdom and gives meaning to these words ‘made in the image of God,’ it is the area of creativity, the capacity to enjoy beauty, to communicate artistically and through abstract ideas.”
You were created by a creative God, on purpose and for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” He created you, his child and image-bearer, to tell his story and reflect his glory in a manner and within a context that only you can.
I love this lyric from Josh Garrels’ song, “Colors”: “Colors are meant to bring glory to the light.” Did you know that without light, there would be no color? Objects only appear to us as certain colors because of the way they absorb or reflect light.
In the same way, you were created uniquely (made to be a certain “color,” if you will). But you’re really only supposed to reflect the Light in the way that only you can. No one can contribute to God’s Kingdom quite like you can. You have certain gifts and desires and passions. Perhaps you have a heart for a certain place or people group or you have a skill set that sets you apart. Like the servants in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, God has given you gifts (talents!) that he wants you to use and risk and invest and multiply, not hide and hoard and squander and forget.
But before you’re truly able to live for him in the fullness of who he’s created you to be, you need to ascertain what song you’re really singing with your life. As Paul David Tripp says in his Advent devotional, Come Let Us Adore Him, “People from every place, of every race, and of every ethnicity sing. If you listen carefully, you will notice that we tend to sing about what has captured our hearts…We sing about what’s important to us…There’s probably not a day in your life where you haven’t sung or haven’t heard a song. We sing; the question is, what song has your heart?”
Whatever has your heart will spill out onto the canvases of your everyday life, whether in literal works of art or acts of service or gospel conversations (and art can be a means of telling the gospel story). And the Kingdom needs you…to tell the greatest Story ever told in a way only you can tell it—with your personality and giftedness to people in your specific context.
So get out there. Tell his story. Sing his song. Help people “walking in darkness” see the Light (Isaiah 9:2). Help those around you to consider Christ beautiful. How, exactly? Use your imagination. Get creative. Ask the Ultimate Creator to help you in that. But remember: You’re just a color bringing glory to the Light.