Why Christians should Paint, Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories, Decorate Cookies, and participate in the Arts

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved art and music.

When I was little my aunt said she loved how I sang all the time. In grade school my teachers let me spend extra time in the library drawing. My parents got me my first oil painting lesson when I was 12. And when I was 14 the Beatles invaded America and I had to get a guitar and get in a band. In college I majored in art ed and got a Masters in painting.

But when Jesus saved me in my early 20s, I began to wonder if art was a waste of time. I could be evangelizing or praying or doing something spiritual instead of dabbing oil paint on a canvas. And besides that, everything is going to burn up anyway at the end, so what’s the use of creating things? Or if I do paint a painting does it have to be a Christian theme? Does it have to have a cross in it or be a scene from the Gospels?

Here are a few reasons why Christians should play banjo and decorate cakes, knit sweaters and make movies, do photography and write poems:

Because God has commanded us to take dominion over the earth. In other words take the raw materials of the world and make stuff out of them.

Because when we create we act as those the Creator made in his own image. God could have made the world in black and white. He could have created one kind of food. Instead he made luna moths and mimosa trees and jungles and deserts and garden spiders and red-winged blackbirds and ring-necked snakes. God didn’t make a strictly utilitarian world. He decorated it with weeping willows and tiger lilies.

Because the arts are a way to bless others. A way to serve others and bring joy to others. A beautiful wall hanging in someone’s living room can bring them joy over and over again and again.

Because the arts bring joy to us. When God created the earth at the end of each day he looked on what he had made and saw that it was good. God enjoyed what he created. And he wants us to get joy from what we create.

Because beauty reminds us of the Beautiful One. When we see a cool painting or hear a moving symphony it points us to the author of all beauty. When I hear the theme from Jurassic Park I don’t simply think of John Williams’ talent, I think of God.

Because God has commanded us to use our gifts and talents. We’re not to bury our talent in the ground. Whatever our hand finds to do, we’re to do it with all our heart as unto the Lord.

Because when we use our gifts it reminds us of the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Paul reminded the Corinthians that all they had had been given to them by a generous God. If we can create something beautiful it’s nothing for us to be proud of – any gifts we have are because God gave them to us.

Because beautiful art looks forward to the new heaven and new earth to come in which righteousness will dwell. Sin brought death and ugliness and distortion and disharmony and chaos into this world. Art is about a longing for beauty and harmony that will ultimately be fulfilled in the age to come.

There are probably many more reasons God wants us to create. Hope these encourage you. And don’t feel like you have to decorate your cookies with images of The Last Supper.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.