Those involved in creative work require a certain space for the work to get done. This varies a great deal between the type of work done. The painter requires the canvas. The sculptor needs the marble or clay. The writer needs the blank page whether in the notebook or on the computer. et even those not engaged in artistic work, a space is needed for creativity. For some it is a garden, others a kitchen and another a wood shop. Whatever place one makes to pursue one’s passions is a creative space.
Now what does one need to pursue those passions given the space set aside for the creation of it?
Freedom – This is foundational for any creative act; the choice to begin and the courage to put paint to canvas or words to paper. Within this choice is also the responsibility for the work created. This is the standing up and saying, ‘I did this!’ For good or ill, you take ownership of what has been created.
Limitations – These are the limitations placed by the medium chosen. Yet even within these limits, an infinite variation is possible. The writer is limited by words yet how those words are arranged opens a horizon of possibility. The painter is limited by paint, line form and color; yet the application to canvas can bring forth both landscape and abstract paintings and myriad other expressions.
Imagination – This is how one uses the limits and freedom to express the personal passion in one’s art. This is the seeing things in new ways within the confines of the medium. This is the never thought of it that way before expressions in pictures or words. This is the contrasting, juxtaposing and transformative nature of the creative process.
Grace – Sometimes in the process, mistakes are made. Some require a complete redo. Others require working with the mistake made. Yet in this process, the wisdom is to learn from the mistake, make it work for you and continue on in the work. Self-criticism and self-editing are essential to the process of perfecting one’s craft. The problem arises when the editing and criticism weigh you down to the point of stopping the work entirely or even preventing it from starting. Balance is necessary to continue moving forward.
So, with these four elements for pursuing the passions of one’s life, embrace the freedom, limits, imagination and grace extended to you. If your life is pursued with the passion that has pursued you, a life of creativity, newness and transformation awaits….
My last post dealt with apostles and the apostolic and the extremes and misunderstood notions prevalent within the church. Freedom and grace, not fear and control are the necessities needed in apostolic work. The great misunderstanding is that the apostolic work will yield similar results regardless of place or culture. That’s the fear and control talking. When a gospel of radical grace and freedom takes root in a community, the results will look differently depending on the context. Granted the expression of that discipleship community will be (hopefully) an expression of Christ, how that church expresses Christ will be manifold.
The apostolic writers in the New Testament used a variety of metaphors to express the church in her growth. The notions of a temple being built, a family coming together, the functioning of the Body of Christ, among others provides a plethora of ways the church is expressed in the world. Variety and uniqueness should be in the very DNA of every local church. This is why I would appeal to those with apostolic callings to be artistic in the work they do.
In Eph. 2.10, it states we are God’s workmanship, the handiwork of the eternal craftsman. The church is a work of that Jesus builds through the Spirit. This is the poema of God. The lyrical poetry crafted before creation that finds expression in the earth through the church. The context and culture a church finds herself in will offer different canvases and different media to express the reality of Jesus Christ. Some canvases may be small, others large. The media may be oils, acrylics, watercolor or collage. Some may very well be sculptures or even a dramatic work or poetry incarnate. Whatever creative raw materials are found in a given area, Jesus Christ will build His church through the Spirit, the finger of God.
The out working of such expressions of Christ in the world should challenge, stretch and transform us. If we find ourselves only agreeing with the art, the artistic expression is not doing the work of unveiling truth and beauty but merely becoming something petty but pretty. Something ‘pretty/petty’ is nothing more than a sanitized version of the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Sugar coated works of art belie the unrestrained passion the God of creation has for His Bride. Why should we as followers of Christ settle for something less? Why should we stifle or even kill the arts and artists?