GET OUT THERE AND MAKE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

I’m speaking at the Arts Week at Charleston Southern University this week.

They invited me because I’m a pastor who writes songs and paints oil paintings. A former art major and rock ‘n roller. As I mentioned in my post last week, when Jesus saved me I began wondering what the point of art and music was. They seemed frivolous and unimportant compared to evangelizing the lost. They weren’t practical. Had no real function other than being decorative or nice to listen to. But eventually God showed me the value of creative pursuits.

First, as I mentioned last week he commands us to subdue the earth and make stuff out of it. When we create, we do so as those he created in his own image.

Here are a few more reasons why you should get out there and create something beautiful:

BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GIFT

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 PE 4.10

Peter probably means “spiritual” gifts, but God gives all kinds of gifts. So in one sense all gifts are spiritual. Look at the spiritual yet practical gifts God gave Bezalel in Exodus.

The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. EX 31.1-5

James 1.17 says every good and perfect gift comes from above. We’re to use our gifts – whether writing, cooking, filmmaking, sewing, photography, athletic gifts – all for God’s glory.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. CO 3.23

TO POINT TO GOD’S BEAUTY

When I hear the theme from Jurassic Park I don’t simply think of John Williams’ talent, I think of God.
The beauty of the universe points to God’s beauty:

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” IS 6.3

All earthly beauty declares God’s glory, including all beauty we create.

TO BLESS OTHERS

For his last 15 years, my dad hand-painted birthday cards for everyone he knew – 5,000 – 6,000 cards. People were blessed and delighted by them. Many framed them and hung them in their homes.

Last September I saw Paul McCartney in concert for the first time in life. His talent and creativity brought joy to my heart. CS Lewis continues to bring joy and pleasure to millions because he used his gifts to write the Narnia Chronicles. Use your gifts to bless others.

TO ENJOY YOURSELF

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. GE 1.3-4

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. GE 1.10

At the end of each day of creation God looked on his handiwork and enjoyed what he’d created. And he wants us to do the same. My Dad got so much joy out of painting. Every time he’d finish one of his cards he’d say to me, “That’s a real purty one ain’t it!” I’d say, “Yeah dad, that’s a real purty one.”

Sometimes when I finish a painting I look at it, and like God at the end of each day of creation, see that it’s good – at least I like it. (I might as well say, “That’s a real purty one, aint’ it.”) God gives me joy to look at something I’ve made. God is just so generous, he gives us talent not only to bless others, but for our own enjoyment.

TO BE A LIGHT TO UNBELIEVERS

A few months ago, our local art association had “studio tour” on a Saturday and Sunday where artists opened their studios to the public. As a pastor, I wrestled with whether or not to participate, because I’d have to miss our church service that Sunday. A friend in another church said, “Mark, our pastors are so focused on our church members they rarely meet unbelievers. I think this is a great opportunity for you to meet people outside the church.” My friend was right. Over the weeekend I interacted with lots of people I’d never get to normally.

TO POINT TO THE NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH

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.

CS Lewis said that books, music, and beauty in this world point to the world to come:

“…they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” – The Weight of Glory

“News from a country we have never yet visited.” When we create we look forward to the new heavens and the new earth yet to come. So get out there and create the scent of a flower from that world…

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.