Core Value 3:Performing Arts are honored and utilized to the glory of God in a fashion relevant and accessible to seekers.
We serve a creative God. Just look at the world around you: the endless shifting landscape of the sky, the sunlight dancing through the intricacies of leaves in motion, and the deep and shimmering blue of a mountain lake.
We serve a creative God. Just look at the people around you: the ingenious combinations of gifts and personalities woven into each person’s makeup, the palette of colors available to tint the iris of the human eye, and the startling variety in the way we smile.
We serve a creative God. Just look at the way He’s used to woo us to Himself: the alluring beauty of His creation, the intriguing—and sometimes disturbing—parables Jesus tells, the comforting and joyful songs He sings to our hearts.
We serve a creative God. Just look at the ways He called His people to worship Him and to communicate His love and truth to the world:
- Vocal Music: The whole book of Psalms is a collection of songs used in worship. King David, whom the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart,” was the writer behind most of the Psalms. You will find followers of God in both the Old and New Testaments breaking into songs of praise at key moments in their lives individually and as a community.
- Instrumental Music: Read through Psalms sometime and notice the wide variety of instruments used to worship God. (For a quick sampling, try Psalm 150.)
- Dance: Psalm 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name with dancing” (NIV). Miriam danced; David danced. We serve a God who has turned our “wailing into dancing (Psalm 30:11, NIV)
- Visual Arts: Check out the building of the tabernacle or of the temple to get a picture of the role the visual arts played in Israel’s place of worship. Bezalel, one of the artists involved in making the tabernacle, was said to have been “chosen” by God and “filled… with the Spirit of God…to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship” (Exodus 35:30-33, NIV)
- Drama: Look up Ezekiel 4 to see a prophet act out a drama that God scripted for His people. Think of the drama involved in many of the stories Jesus told. Think of what Jesus commanded us to reenact every time we take Communion.
- Poetry: Many of the books of the Bible contain poetry; some are mostly poetry. The books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs are known as the “Poetic Books.” For some New Testament poetry, try Philippians 2:5-11 and Luke1:46-55.
We serve a creative God. But why do you suppose He bothers with all that creativity? Why not just carve some commandments on stone and leave it at that? Well, the truth is (no offense intended to all you law-and-logic-lovers out there): the truth is, for most people, most of the time, a good story will trump a good argument. Add a good story to a good argument (under the Holy Spirit’s power), and chances are hearts will open to the truth.
See, the arts (music, drama, dance, poetry, painting…)—the arts have a way of getting to the heart of the matter. They’re not as threatening as a proclamation of truth or consequences. They sneak up on you, draw you in, get you looking at the fact, and laughing or crying about it before you can even put your defenses up. They serve the dual purpose of showing people the truth while simultaneously opening people up to it.
That’s why you’re more ready to hear the weekend teaching after singing a few worship songs than you were when you entered the auditorium from the parking lot. That’s why you may receive a new insight about God while watching the dance team perform. That’s why a teaching point may hit you at a deeper level after you’ve laughed or cried through a drama sketch.
The arts don’t water faith down—they provide a much-needed glimpse into the eternal, a much-longed-for handle to the truth. Done well, the arts raise the agonizing questions of the human condition that must be confronted by both believers and seekers. Done well, the arts put words and music, and imagery around the cry of a heart that may not yet know how to express itself. Done well, the arts bring glory to God.
We serve a creative God. And we serve Him creatively.