Have you ever wondered why we create and perform? After all, it takes a lot of time and energy. There is no guarantee of fame, much less fortune. And yet, so many of us devote so much of our lives to music.
Looking back over my life, I've experienced three interrelated motives:
The first is divine GIFTEDNESS. We create because we’re made in the image of a creative God. He made us like himself and is pleased to bless us with talents and gifts that reflect his character. Like every good father, he delights in seeing himself in his children.
In Exodus 35:30-35, the Lord filled artisans “with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” to adorn his tabernacle. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit endowed believers with spiritual gifts with which to serve others and honor God (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). The Lord is both the Source and the Object of our creativity. In particular, he gives us music as the language of the soul—a spiritual gift that allows us to convey thoughts and feelings that are beyond mere words.
When we exercise our God-given gifts within our God-given callings, we not only bring glory to him and pleasure to others; we also experience great contentment and peace. In this sense, whether the subject matter is sacred or secular, we create because we’re made to.
But we also perform out of our personal BROKENNESS. Although we’ve been formed in the image of our Creator, our sinfulness corrupts our capacity to have deep intimacy with him and healthy relationships with each other.
So rather than using our artistic gifts to honor the Lord and serve one another, we may misuse our talents by seeking our own fame before God’s. We are tempted to manipulate our audiences rather than to bless them. We may substitute commercial success for the security that comes from being held in God’s hand. We seek our significance in our artistry rather than in God’s unconditional acceptance. As it becomes more and more about us, awe and wonder are replaced by selfish entitlement. In this sense, we create because we need to.
Or, we can create out of our profound GRATEFULNESS. As we come to realize who we are in Christ, we are humbled by the awareness that we are--and have always been--Christ’s Beloved. We are the objects of his affection: a holy people sanctified by his sacrifice. This transforms our minds and our motives.
Our music is no longer a cry for acceptance or an anthem of defiance; rather, we join the song of the redeemed. We no longer perform to earn the conditional acceptance of men; rather, we sing because we are unconditionally accepted by God in Christ. True worshipers understand themselves before God and respond appropriately—not just in the sanctuary, but also in every context of life.
When we offer our art in gratitude, our music celebrates the Light of the World or is illuminated by the Light of the World. We show his beauty to the world and see the world’s true beauty in him. To paraphrase the hymnist, “We sing because we’re happy; we sing because we’re free!” Our creativity becomes a testimony to God’s redemptive work in our lives. As we exercise the gifts he’s given us, we gratefully point to the Author and Finisher of our Art.
In this case, we create because we love to.
Why do you find yourself creating and performing?
--For more articles on developing a biblical theology of worship, check out additional blogs at www.discoverworship.com