Giving God Control
I have struggled with what it means to let the Kingdom of God reign over my art. God has been so gracious, so fulfilling, and so satisfying. Yet when it comes to art making, why the temptation to hold-back?
Peter Kreeft rightly points out, We're all insane. Perhaps I fear that I’ll have to do those sentimental paintings of Sunday School, or produce the tchotchkes in the Christian stores. Perhaps I draw comparisons between working with God and many a well-intentioned collaboration that has crashed and burned because artists rarely work well together.
But when I meditate on the breadth of creation, with its myriad environments and ecosystems, estimated 8.7 million species, one hundred billion galaxies, possible 10 dimensions (only 4 of which we can perceive), why do I illogically fear that letting God take control will somehow limit my art?
Peter Kreeft speaks to this in his lecture on C.S. Lewis and The Imagination:
But our main model and example for the Christian imagination is of course, Christ, the main model for everything human, therefore for the imagination too. The question is though, Is He not too high a model? Can we do the sort of thing He did? He says so. You Shall do the works that I do, and even greater than these even will you do. What was he talking about, only healing miracles? One of His miracles … was His use of the imagination. Why limit His prophecy to mere miracles of healing bodies? Why not healing of imaginations too, baptizing imaginations? … Can we do that sort of thing? We aren’t God… Ah, but we are images of God, my name is I, just as God’s name is I AM… So we too can be original.
But as every great Christian writer has seen and said, the secret of originality is the same as Christ’s. No one in history was ever more original; and no one in history was ever less original. Christ said, I come not to do my own will but to do the will of the Father; not my own teaching, but my teaching comes from Him. And yet no one was ever more original than He. The last page of Mere Christianity, Lewis explains this principle:
Until you have given up your whole self to Him, you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most natural men, not among those who have surrendered to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been. How gloriously different are the saints. [What’s the difference between Adolf Hitler and Attila the Hun? A mustache and a German accent. What’s the different between Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More? Or Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux? All the difference in the world…] The very first step is to try to forget about yourself altogether. Your real new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him…Does that sound strange? The same principle holds for everyday matters... Even in social life, you will not make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original. Whereas if you simply try to tell the truth, without caring two pence how often it has been told before, you will nine times out of ten become original without ever having noticed it.
These truths can dispel our fears and false views of the only real Creator God who graciously gifts us and invites us into His work. As Francis Schaeffer said, The Christian is the one’s whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.
by Melanie Spinks
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexbarros/2087352290/">Alex Barros</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>