Just a Thought: The Idea of Incarnational Art

sherjc.com_incarnational_art_cirToday, I read an article someone posted on Facebook on the topic of “How True Art Points to God.” As I started pondering on what I just read, I discovered some interesting food for thought.

I believe the art that truly points to God really comes from a heart that is rooted and saturated in Him, abiding in Him. It’s just the overflow of the relationship. It doesn’t have to try hard to have a “Christian” message, and it certainly doesn’t mean that those who claim the name of Jesus automatically make Christian art. It flows from the well of a deep relationship with Christ that is seasoned by His Word and led by the Spirit of God. It’s that same Spirit that overshadows us, so to speak, and delivers a message well beyond us to what is truly good, lovely, holy, and directs our hearts toward God.

Immediately, I think of the work of the tabernacle in Exodus 31 and how the Spirit of God came on Bezalel for the intricate craftsmanship and design in the specs that the Lord gave to Moses. And there are many more examples in Scripture where the Spirit of God is involved in the creation process, from the Creation of the world in Genesis 1 and following to the songs by musicians of 1 Chronicles 15:16+. The Holy Spirit is essential to the process of developing art that truly points to God.

Sometimes we forget that we must be filled with the Spirit to produce the fruit, which we learn from Jesus in John 15, we are meant to: fruit that lasts and glorifies the Father, including the fruit that is our art. And the only way to walk by the Spirit in this way is to be intentional about abiding in the Vine, otherwise, we will naturally act out of our flesh, producing the works of unrighteousness.

I believe that’s where the Madeleine L’Engle quote on art being incarnational comes in. (And how I love that book she wrote on being an artist called Walking on Water.) I see that often as I capture my own work, especially as a fine art photographer. I thought it was a shame that the author of the above article didn’t really discuss this aspect of “true art” very much. After all, it’s one thing to claim that Scripture doesn’t discuss everything, but let us not take such a casual glance that we forget the ever important role of the Holy Spirit of God in the creation of art. He  came that we might have power, wisdom, and insight from on high in all things, including to understand the Scriptures, live a life faithful to God, and express ourselves in ways consistent with God’s desires. When it comes to art, it is this work of the Spririt simply cannot be replicated or engineered by even our best attempts, no matter how talented we may be.

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