What is a writer?
Writer >noun: a person who has written a particular text, or who writes books or articles as an occupation.
If this is your definition of yourself, you might want to rethink your priorities. First of all, anyone who thinks that writing is a remotely sane, safe choice of ‘occupation’…
I’ll spare you the cynical laughter.
It isn’t sane and it isn’t safe. We write because we have no other choice. We write because there is no other way to quiet the voice inside us that screams to be released, even if we don’t even know what to say.
Writing is not practical. It’s a labor of love. It’s an art, and we are the artists, compelled to express what we don’t understand for reasons we barely comprehend.
Oh sure, on the surface it can be easy enough to understand what we’re doing. I mean, not all of us are going to be the next C. S. Lewis, right? We write for the fun of words; the joy of emotions, the intrigue of new worlds and surprising twists. We don’t have to worry about that convoluted philosophical stuff.
I’m here to tell you that we do. To pursue true excellence in our chosen craft and honor the God who gave us this gift, we can’t just let ourselves be happy amateurs.
That means we have to understand exactly what art is, and how that makes a difference in our lives as Christian writers.
What is Art?
This article covers the question beautifully. Bluntly put, art is the act of creation.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5 (NKJV)
The whole history and understanding of art is right here. Art is an explicitly Christian science. No artist can create without reflecting God, even if he has no idea what he’s reflecting.
Wait a minute, you should be asking. What about the weird, abstract modern ‘art’ that makes no sense and is only confusing? How does that reflect God?
Is Abstract Art Legitimate?
The answer, I believe, is both yes and no. Abstract art is self-expression. It’s what happens when man seeks to discover understanding by his own wisdom, without looking to God, and therefore only managing to run round in circles.
Abstract art is confused and patternless for a reason.
I bluntly stated above that art is the act of creation, but that’s slightly vague. What is creation, for that matter?
Creation: the act of creating; especially: the act of bringing the world into ordered existence.
The glory of God is to bring order out of chaos.
‘The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep… Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.’
When you leave God out of the equation, all you have left is chaos.
Does abstract art still qualify as art, then?
I believe it does, however imperfectly. Remember, we are created in the image of our Creator, and like Him are driven to create. When we exercise that right of inheritance, we glorify Him even if we never realize it.
Abstract art is still a seeking after understanding. Seeking in the wrong place, yes. Missing the bigger picture; the infinite and eternal one, yes, and this is not what we strive for.
But it’s still seeking.
The Beauty of Christian Art
We are truly blessed. How many times do we stop and remember that? How many times do we simply take it for granted; all that He’s done for us, and all that He will do if we ask?
Too many, on my part.
We’ve just established that man alone is incapable of truly great art. Truly great art mirrors God, and not only mirrors Him, but through His wisdom helps us see Him clearer. Order from chaos. The order and beauty of God transcending the chaos of the world around us. His light from the darkness that we live in, revealing to us a future and a hope.
Who’s going to teach us to see that, when we’ve been born in darkness and can only find a flawed, imperfect truth by our own seeking? How can we bring order from chaos when chaos is what we live and breathe? Truly great art by that definition seems impossible!
‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.’
James 1:5 (NKJV)
That is the beauty of Christian art. That simple and that profound. We as humans cannot create art in its truest form. It is quite literally impossible. We can only repeat the patterns we see in the world around us, striving to make them clear and failing because they’re only a tiny piece of an eternal puzzle.
But we as Christians have the knowledge of the truth at our fingertips, and by the grace and wisdom of the almighty God we serve, the words that we write can have the power to change the world.
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV)