By Sara M. Smith, Music and Art Teacher
In the beginning, God created…
These are the first five words of the entire Bible. We are creative people because we have a creative God. In some respects, we were created to create. How do we know this? We know because it says in Genesis 1:26, “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’; so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them.” So if God is a creator, and He creates us to resemble Him, we too should create.
1. What should we create? Something of beauty.
Later in Genesis, it says that God looked over everything he had created and He saw that it was very good, that it was beautiful. God had created the stars in the sky, every bird and tree, every detail in the entire ocean and He made it well. It doesn’t say it was okay, or sort of lovely, but that it was very good. We look to examples that are truly beautiful to be our teachers: excellent books, wonderful visual art, and well-written music.
John Witvliet said, “What more soul-shaping force can we imagine that the songs we sing?" Music has the uncanny ability to burrow its way into our spiritual bones. When it comes to matters of spirituality and faith, we are what we sing. Music is certainly among these potent soul-shaping forces. As Aristotle said and many have since claimed, music has formative power. It will either corrupt us, inoculate us, or – to use a Pauline phrase – “build us up.” We do not realize the power of our atmosphere. We are highly influenced by the things surrounding us; so how important it is to be surrounded by goodness, truth and beauty!
2. What should we create? Something of excellence.
In order to create something of beauty and excellence, it takes craftsmanship and time. It takes the giving of much energy for the sake of working and re-working until something is beautifully made. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy!” God wants you to bring something of excellence before Him. It glorifies God when you create something outstanding that you have poured your time and energy into.
3. What should we create? Something that brings honor to the Lord.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Sometimes we think that art, music or other creative endeavors are just the extras in life, but built-in to our human DNA is the wonderful potential to glorify God with our creative talents. It is our responsibility to redeem the arts in such a way that God is glorified, not because it’s merely “Christian” art, but because it is breath-taking and reflects a glorious God.
4. How should we create? With humility and joy.
Johann Sebastian Bach is known today as one of the most brilliant composers of all time, yet during his lifetime, he was not famous or particularly revered. The majority of his life he worked as a musician in a small church in Leipzig, Germany where he composed new music every week for worship. Inscribed on all his religious works and many of his secular pieces were the words, Soli Deo Gloria, (To God Alone be the Glory). He was faithful in the small things that God placed before him, and today his name is known throughout the world.
The Westminster Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We are made in the image of God, image-bearers of His glory and creativity. God desires to help us live the most full, rich and honoring life that is full of joy as we create beautiful music, inspiring visual art, honest poetry, and interesting stories all for the glory of His kingdom.
Our vision at Clapham is to cultivate goodness, truth, and beauty; therefore, as we study music, art, poetry, literature, and theatre we are stretching creative muscles that are not just for “fun” but to cultivate a deep well of beauty and understanding that is not only formative now, but our students will have a rich fabric of creativity to draw from for the rest of their lives.