Called to Create

Art as a reflection of God’s character

May 14, 2023

God Creative Process Art Artist Creativity
person hands with paint on them

Photo by Amauri Mejía

Lately writing in and of itself has not felt like enough. In this day and age, it seems to be all about product. I feel an immense pressure to monetize my writing, to package it up into a beautiful box, market it, and sell it. Not just that, but to ensure it stands out among others in order to be valuable. The mere act of writing, of finishing a blog post and publishing it, seems to have lost meaning. And this grieves me to be honest, and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It makes me feel like forgotten art buried in an attic. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against monetizing one’s art or creative pursuits, and I admire those that have found a way to do that. I just feel that in today’s world, unless you pursue that route, your art doesn’t mean much. Creating, for creating’s sake, is dwindling.

When on social media, how quick are we to click on people’s web shops, or scroll through their page looking for something we can consume? How eager are we to download free (or paid) resources or sign up for mailing lists that promise to give us something in return? I get it, marketing 101. And I understand that for many artists, this is their livelihood. But what about the ones who, for whatever reason, don’t want to turn their art into a commodity for profit but still want to be seen? Who still want their art to be appreciated and valued but not turned into a marketing plan? This seems to be a struggle all artists must face at one point—how to maintain the integrity of their work and their love for the craft without feeling like a “sellout.”

I can’t help wondering, what happened to just savoring words and images?

Maybe I haven’t caught up with everyone else. I’m an old soul. If I ever do publish a book, I’ll be the worst at promoting it. I’ll admit, I would love to put something out into the world that others would willingly pay money for, I just don’t want that goal to be the reason I show up here. I don’t want it to change or influence my writing. Perhaps my fears are unfounded, never having gone through the publishing process. That is TBD. But the pressure is very much grounded in the real world. Can you even call yourself a writer these days without a platform, a following, a brand? That’s just the way it goes, they say.

Even as I sit here writing this post, I’m wondering how to condense it into a few quotes for Instagram. How to make it “shiny” and consumable. Does that betray the writing? Does that take some of its essence away? Perhaps it’s all perspective and how you choose to view it. Would we have the same admiration for the Godfather trilogy if it was reduced to a short film? How about if The Dark Knight score composed by Hans Zimmer was turned into a cell phone ringtone?

The more I reflect on this, the more I’m realizing that art, by the mere act of being shaped into form, is forced to be reduced. It exists in the ether, in its purest form, untouched by the limitations of a human mind. In order to show up in our sphere—on paper, on a canvas, on a movie screen—it has to be diminished somewhat, molded by our imagination into something other than what it originally was. As grand and breathtaking as it ends up being, it is still only an extension of its true nature.

This is not unlike Jesus, who came down in human form, but is infinitely more than that.

He reduced himself, put down his crown, left the heavenly realms and his righthand seat next to God, in order to live amongst us on earth. The one who was incapable of sinning, dining with sinners. The one untouched by human frailties, facing all of them. He traded wings for our skin. And with all that, he still performed miracles, healed the sick, taught lifegiving lessons, and offered the ultimate gift—eternity with him, free from all manner of bondage.

Me and you, we’re not Jesus. But we can make a difference with the gifts we’ve been given. We are still called to create, as our heavenly father created. As limited as we are in our human skin and distracted mind, we are still capable of expanding. Of offering something we hold sacred. And our art, even in its restricted state, has the capacity to heal wounds, to teach forgiveness, and to make what was once broken, whole again. As Jewel sings so beautifully in her song, “Hands”:

We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's mind
We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's heart

This is why we’re here, is it not? To do the work God would do if He was on earth. To be His eyes, His hands, His heart and mind, listening for aching souls in order to go see how we can help. I think the arts will always have a special place in God’s heart. Perhaps He knew, as inattentive earthlings, we would better consume His word and teachings if they came in the form of captivating art. Maybe He planted this desire for expression in us knowing we would crave emotional release. Could it be that much of what art really is, is someone wrestling with something, trying to make sense of it, and the end product we see is that journey in physical form? The consumer as witness to another’s experience.

This is the final verdict I am landing on—whether we create out of a desire to just express ourselves, or with a desire to put our art out into the world for profit, the mere act of creating is still holy because it reflects God’s character.

As His creation, we are privileged with the ability to make something out of nothing. To envision a mere idea in our mind and bring it to fruition in real life. There is nothing meaningless about that. I have to believe that even if no one reads these words, they are significant, they are valuable. Because it is beliefs like this that carry us forward, give us the motivation we need to keep showing up. And should my writing naturally take the path of profit one day and it is something that feels right and is honorable to God deep in my soul, I shall go down that road. But for now, this small but mighty post will have to do.