What Does Art Have to Do with Being a Christian?

This is the outline for a talk I gave yesterday with my 1:11 Ministries team at an Art-Life Workshop hosted by HillCity Church in Abbotsford, BC. I promised to post it here for the attendees and wanted to make it available to my other readers as well. Be blessed!

Photo by oscarkari


So before I get started, I’d like to know how many people self-identify as an artist. You would say, “Yes, I’m an artist,” can you raise your hand?

  • Yes, I’m a painter;
  • Yes, I’m a writer;
  • Yes, I’m a sculptor;
  • Yes, I’m a dancer.
  • Anyone do handcrafts of some kind?
  • You work with textiles?
  • How about architecture?
  • Interior design?
  • Like to work with food?


I’m a writer and a spoken-word artist. I’ve written eighteen novels plus a lot of nonfiction and short stories, so too much to count actually. I’ve been doing this seriously since my young teens.

But I stopped cold for a while, and it was when I got serious about Jesus.

Because I thought: This is selfish, what I do. I just sit in a room by myself and make up stories. It takes like weeks and months. What does that have to do with serving God and loving people?

Can anybody here relate?

You know you’ve got this gift and this drive to create, but you think: What does this have to do with being a follower of Jesus?

Going to church, reading your Bible, feeding the hungry, volunteering at kids camp, all that makes sense as a disciple of Christ.

But what does art have to do with it?

Getting a Kingdom Vision

Okay, so one of my pet peeves is that sometimes we make Christianity this thing that has nothing to do with our real lives. It belongs in this pocket over here, and then our personalities are in this pocket here, and our dreams are in this pocket, and so on.

But the reality is completely different from that. The reality is a kingdom of God reality, and it encompasses everything and gives everything meaning.

I want to share with you: What is art, according to the Bible? What is an artist, why do we do this?

I want to transform your vision today. I want you to walk out of here with your head held higher and your spirit a lot more free because you realize God has given you this amazing gift, and it’s a reflection of him and it’s meant to be part of your relationship with him.

Are you up for that? Great.


Well, briefly, you are.

Let’s back up. When we meet God for the first time in the Bible, here’s what he’s doing:

Genesis 1-2

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

This goes on: it’s this incredible riot of color and light and sound and life bursting out of … not nothing.

Bursting out of the imagination of God.

Coming out of God’s inner life.

This is why creation can tell us so much about who God is.

Verse 2 says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. Literally “brooded,” like a bird over a nest. God had something in his heart and mind. He imagined something in the invisible world of spirit, and then he brought it into the physical world through his creative power.

That’s art: art is taking something that only exists in the invisible world of spirit and giving it form and being in the physical world.

Even music or spoken word is physical: it produces sound waves that literally touch the ear and exist as physical realities in the universe. In fact they never end; they just keep traveling out.

Isn’t that what you do? You have an emotion, a perspective, a story, a character, a melody, an idea, and you make it physical reality through your artistic gift.

And then—amazing—you’re able to take this expression of your inner life, your imagination, your spirit, and impart it to someone else. Now someone can see it, experience it, be impacted and changed by it, because you gave it form.

We are living images of God. Theologians don’t know exactly what this means but there is unanimous agreement that it has to do with our creative capacity.


The Bible doesn’t really use the word “creativity” or “art”—some modern translations might use “artistic,” but these aren’t common Bible words. But that doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t talk about these things; totally the contrary.

The Bible word for creativity is “wisdom.”

And we all know the Bible has a LOT to say about wisdom! Wisdom isn’t just moral thinking or smartness or prudence. It’s scientific knowledge, art and creativity, engineering, cunning, cleverness, the ability to create and make connections. It’s what makes us different from animals.

Proverbs 8:22-31: READ, using the word “Creativity”—“I, creativity.”

“The Lord made me
at the beginning of His creation,
before His works of long ago.
I was formed before ancient times,
from the beginning, before the earth began.
 I was born
when there were no watery depths
and no springs filled with water.
 I was delivered
before the mountains and hills were established,
before He made the land, the fields,
or the first soil on earth.
I was there when He established the heavens,
when He laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean,
when He placed the skies above,
when the fountains of the ocean gushed out,
when He set a limit for the sea
so that the waters would not violate His command,
when He laid out the foundations of the earth.
I was a skilled craftsman [or “a child” or “a confidant”] beside Him.
I was His delight every day,
always rejoicing before Him.
 I was rejoicing in His inhabited world,
delighting in the human race.

Before the writer Ray Bradbury died, he was asked to describe what he did for a living. He said, “At play in the fields of the Lord.”

Today, PLAY. Your creativity is God’s delight. You are like a skilled craftsman, a child, and a confidant beside him as you create.


Let’s go back to Genesis for a moment. I want us to see how spiritual creativity actually is and how central to who we are. And I want you to see something else: I want you to see what YOU are.

Genesis 2:7. 

Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Note three things:

  1. God is hands-on here. The idea is a sculptor or a potter. “Image of God” = originally “image” meant an idol or sculpture of something. God was creating something that looked like himself.
  1. God breathes; we breathe in. The word for “breath” is ruach, also translated “spirit.” The word for “soul” is nephesh, which literally means a breathing creature.

Breathe in.

You are not just breathing air. You are alive—a breathing creature—because spirit was breathed into you.  Greek words pneuma/psyche have the same relationship. Breath and breathing. God is the direct source of your life.

Stop and think for a moment.

  • 37.2 trillion cells in the human body.
  • Each cell is essentially a small city—an architectural and engineering marvel.
  • Your skeletal structure is incredible architecture.
  • DNA is best described as a language, with its own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
  • You have an instrument built into your throat.
  • Look at yourself, at one another.
  • Look at the pigment in your skin.
  • Look at the architecture of your hand.
  • Look at the symmetry and beauty of your features.
  • You are God’s artwork.
  • God wrote you.
  • He designed you.
  • He painted you.
  • And he delighted in doing so.

Psalm 139:13-16.

For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

This is the creation of an individual. God did not stop creating with Adam.


John 1:4, 9: The answer to where life comes from, the great scientific mystery. In Jesus was life, and the life was the light of men; he gives light to everyone who comes into the world.

Ephesians 2:10: 

For we are His creation [or “workmanship”], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

This word “creation” or “workmanship” is the Greek poiema, where we get “poem.” We are created to do “good works”: life-giving tasks, things to accomplish that delight God and delight others. We are back in Proverbs 8.


What does art have to do with being a follower of Jesus?

Pretty much everything.


To wrap this up, one more OT story.

Exodus 35:30–32:1.

  • Bezalel the first person in all of Scripture said to be “filled with the Spirit of God.”
  • Moses was the spiritual leader of Israel. But when it came time to build the tabernacle, the physical place that would house God’s presence, he called for the artists.
  • The tabernacle was an artistic masterpiece designed to hit every physical sense.
  • Hebrews 8:5: “These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, ‘Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.’” These artists gave physical form to something that existed in the Spirit.

John 2: Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple. Challenged by the religious leaders to give a sign of his authority, he said, “Tear down this sanctuary, and I will rebuild it in three days.”

The sanctuary Jesus built is his body, and you are a part of it. Not only are you God’s workmanship from your original creation, but now you are a part of the tabernacle on earth, and your artistic gifts are blessed by God to bring things of his Spirit into physical being here.

At play in the fields of the Lord.






2 responses to “What Does Art Have to Do with Being a Christian?”

  1. Linda Heise Avatar

    Thank you for posting this. It is a beautiful reminder to me as an artist and a validation. Everything that we are, do, say and paint should glorify our heavenly Father.

    1. Rachel Avatar

      You’re so welcome, Linda! Glad it was an encouragement to you!

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