Art can be a praiseworthy thing.
By art, we create experiences and forge common identities with others. We share stories and build visions. People express love through their work. Humans give glory to God when they honor him with the fruits of their labors.
There should always be adornments and songs in the House of God, because our offerings before His Throne are as pleasing as the smell of burning incense.
Yet we cannot always avoid the risks, either.
Exploring a wide range of ideas always invites the chance of error. Reading stories could possibly open our minds to incorrect conclusions about the world. Watching films may lead us to idolize the actors instead of hearing the intended message. Dancing might lead us into the path of physical temptation. We even fear allowing music in the Holy Temple for fear of poor language or inadequate talent to capture the inexpressible.
For the sake of protecting the love and faith and gifts that God has given to us, we shut out many things that could pose a threat to what we hold most dear. After all, we might say to ourselves, is it not better to go armed with the shield and sword than to be found defenseless before our enemies?
In the midst of such deep and meaningful questions of faith, God interjects an answer.
The message that God gives is one that we don’t always want to hear. It could challenge assumptions we hold or shake the security our hearts and souls and minds cling to. But there will always come a time to take a leap of faith. To strive in Hope. And most importantly, to love.
This is the answer I want to stand behind.
Love protects. It keeps foul language out of the lyrics of loving music. It does not depict violence for shock value, and it takes no risks without God’s guidance. Love is careful and patient, not charging ahead where culture is unable to follow. Yet love also challenges.
Sometimes we are to speak when others are afraid. To press on when others stop. To work while some take their rest. To strive when complacency is the norm and to be virtuous when sin abounds. There are times when love will not wait for us to feel comfortable or ready or even knowledgeable.
We also need faith to carry us and hope to uplift us. But, love always puts the need of God and others ahead of itself because love reaps to sow, willing to work for the benefit of everyone else before itself.
This year’s Summit theme of being rooted in God’s nature challenged me on a level deeper than I had expected, but why should I expect God to be predictable?
If I can be wrong about God sometimes and still be saved, can we not also trust in Love as well? God does not always ask us to move, but Abram went when he was called, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.
When we go out into the world of art, God isn’t calling us to leave our armor or sword at home. But at the same time, we ought to show discipline before haste and love before anger.
Just because we carry God’s sword does not mean we ought to slash at everything that displeases us, nor should we close our love off from our enemies. For Jesus commanded all people to love all people, knowing that swords would not last forever. Armor will be burnt as needless and swords beaten into plowshares for the sowing of the Kingdom.
One day, the gift of speaking will no more be used to attack God’s enemies, but to praise His Name. There will come a time when the Sword of Wrath will be exchanged for the Embrace of Righteousness.
This is what it means to live as saved people on the earth. We are to love as Christ loved, loves and will always love: being willing to be crucified even for those who are murdering us.
This week, I pray we all lower our shields and open our ears enough to see God’s Work and hear his Words. Let us go in peace and love as we have been called to love. Art is a tool for love, and we can also make an art out of loving.