Apostolic Artistry

I couldn’t make up my mind.

In the proverbial pursuit of “trying to find myself” I quite literally spent thousands of dollars in tuition and books bouncing from major to major while in college. One semester I was pursuing a degree in education and the next jazz guitar. I would flip flop from studying Bible and theology to contemplating dropping out of college to go on tour with my band. Finally, in one of my senior years, my wife suggested that I probably ought to think about graduating at some point. As I perused my transcripts I had accumulated enough credits in art classes to be able to finish. Perhaps the reason I took so many art classes because of the repeated insights I discovered about myself and the world I inhabit through the process of creating.

It is through art that we discover an arresting paradox…

Creation and destruction are not opposites.

Instead, creation and destruction are really two sides of the same coin. Each time that a brushstroke is applied, a painting is being created. Each time that the same brushstroke is applied, a blank canvas is being destroyed. This reveals that not all creation is good—nor is all destruction bad. Rather, the value of what is being created or destroyed is the determined by the artist.

This insight is particularly meaningful for the Church.

God—the Creator—sends His people into the earth as participants and co-creators to redeem and restore the earth. With each act of hospitality… with every song composed… with each mission formed… with every church planted; there is a creation of light that destroys the darkness.

The Great Commission is an invitation to practice apostolic artistry. This means that we are to see our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces as canvases to paint the brushstrokes of God’s Kingdom into being. Surely this means “destroying” the blemishes of poverty, injustice, and disease. But the Kingdom of God is not simply the absence of suffering—it is the presence of beauty. Creatives must then be bold with their imaginations and dreams, realizing there is much at stake!

If the call of mission is apostolic artistry, we must realize that we are called to create; not mimic. The spiritual landscape of the Church has become one of regurgitating what has been seen countless times before without much engagement with our imaginations. To no surprise, this means that competition has been bred among many congregations. A lack of creativity conceives disunity and even isolation. However, true apostolic artistry—the bold playfulness to create—inspires collaboration. We are able to see brothers and sisters, not as competitors; but as other artists who have different brushes, hues, and pallets to be shared.

Now is the time for each member of the Church to courageous dream again of how they can partner with God in creating a different world. We must imagine a world that doesn’t yet exist, and work with one another to make it a reality.

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