W. Ann Reynolds once said, “Anyone who says you cannot see a thought simply doesn’t know art.” For those creative persons who have ever held a brush, camera, pencil, or script in their hand, they know this to be true. Poets, painters, writers, teachers, performers, filmmakers, and communicators of all kind have this unquenchable desire – a calling really – to report back to others their observations, thoughts, and ideas. They just can’t stop themselves from doing this. The prophet Jeremiah might have called this a “fire in the bones.”
So the skillful artist is not necessarily the one with the best thoughts or ideas, the biggest public platform or the one who is a mass of pure talent. It is the one who can communicate his or her ideas to others. It is the one who can translate what is within – the glory and the madness – for others to see, hear, and experience for themselves.
We people of faith need more artists in our number. And I don’t mean the cheese-makers that fill up the shelves of the local Christian bookstores. The parade of greeting cards, neck ties, stationary, wind chimes, monograms, t-shirts, necklaces, charm bracelets, wall hangings, and carvings that spews from commercial Christianity’s warehouses and passes as art is stale, sappy, and downright embarrassing. Bach and Michelangelo would be ashamed. And save us, sweet Jesus, from another bible-verse-inscribed-sun-setting landscape portrait or one of those dauntless lighthouses paintings amidst iridescent clouds.
Instead, we need a spiritual renaissance. We need genuine artists, those who can skillfully open their souls to communicate their experience of faith. We need people in the pew and preachers from the pulpit who, though they may not be able to use a brush, make a rhyme, play a note, or write a book, they can still creatively and beautifully translate their hearts for the world to read.
See, each of us has a unique journey of faith. Each of us has a story to tell and a picture to paint. Each of us has a masterpiece of faith on the inside that could be shared with others. This is art, this is communication, and it is so badly needed today. For while there is a lot of talking, preaching, blogging, conferencing, and shouting in the world of faith, there is not much creative communication.
But when faith, just like art, is good, it does something that pontificating, Bible-thumping, and finger-pointing can’t do. It makes you want to get in on it. It motivates you to pick up the brush and give it a try for yourself. It causes you to hum along to the music or stop and look at the painting. Yes, faith can do the same as good art, where the objective is not to coax, convert, or condemn, but to simply share the experience of your heart.
Of course the only way this will happen is brutal vulnerability. The artist, and people of faith, must take the risk of being criticized, scoffed at, and having their work – the very bearings of the soul – unappreciated. But how much beauty would be robbed from the world if courageous artists did not give their hearts and experiences away to others? It would be a tragedy.