If you want to create something beautiful in life, you’ve got to know how to distinguish between what is good art and what is bad art, or not art at all, in your life. It doesn’t matter your occupation. Art can happen anywhere. It can happen on a soccer field, in a bank, in a church, in a theater, or on a sidewalk. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself creative.
Here’s what it takes to recognize great art. Art must cause a connection. It must communicate the connection between what is lovely and holy and what is baser and needy– In other words, it must communicate redemption. Art lies in the sacred space of connection between mankind and God. Think Les Miserables: it communicates the connection between the horror of what we experience in life and hope of something amazing beyond that experience.
Whatever we do, we have to recognize that pain of the process of art is part of what gives it it’s beauty. There is a delicate balance we are trying to achieve when we make any attempt at art. It must require concerted effort, but it cannot be forced, faked, or contrived.
When it comes right down to it, art is worship. That’s why everything we do can become art. It can become an act of worship if it is done right. It’s not the “what” in the things we do but the “how”– the way we do things that makes our lives meaningful. It is the way that we do things that either connects with others in a redemptive way, or pushes them away.
If you agree that art is worship, go with me one step further. If you say you are a worshipper, then you must also be an artist. In all that you do, whether you wait tables or whether you are a broadway performer, you can perform your duties with the mindset of an artist, a Levite, a priest to connect with God, to connect others to God, to connect people to people in a redemptive way. Every nuance of a conversation, every effort exerted toward doing what you do well, can be living brush strokes that reveal the passion of our lives.
So, in a way, the Great Commission is one huge collaborative art project commissioned by God himself. How you move toward the Great Commission reveals the passion you have for worshipping a captivating and compelling God. We don’t produce or stamp out disciples. No, God uses the word “make” when he talks about how we get disciples. Making involves creating, molding, sculpting, coloring, shading, adjusting, watching, finishing. When we make disciples we make something beautiful, something messy and organic.
If you’re like me, this perspective puts a whole lot more joy into obeying the call of the Great Commission. Making disciples is all in the how, not merely the “what.” After all, Jesus chastised the teachers of the law who would travel over land and sea to win a single convert. But it was not “what” they were doing that was the problem. It was the how. They were converting people to God, but they used man-made mechanical means. They did not use the art of worship. He said that they’d end up making those disciples every bit the sons of hell that they were (Matt 23:15). Snip a little here (through circumcision), get your studying done, mind your p’s and q’s, tuck in your tunic, look down on the unfortunate Gentiles, and you are all set. They were never willing to get their hands messy in the business of redemption, of loving people, of laying their hearts bare.
So, I suggest that we treat our faith more like a fine art than a science. That we argue less and ask more. That we find more play and less worry in our spiritual pursuits. That we participate more than we evaluate. Art takes bravery. Art takes soul. Art breathes. Art connects. How much of what you do is really art?