The Supremacy of Christ: The Proper Place of the Arts in the Local Church

Before we can talk about the proper place of the arts in the local church, we must first acknowledge that both the universal church and the local groups gathered in Jesus’ name and for His glory belong to Jesus Christ.  I love these verses in Colossians:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18)

The word for “preeminence” in the NIV is “supremacy.” The NASB most accurately states the supremacy of Christ as His coming first in everything.

Very simply put, Christ not only expects to come before all else in my life, but also to be the driving reason behind all I say and do. From this passage, it is clear this is also Christ’s standard for His church. This is very serious business to God. He jealously guards His glory. In Isaiah, He declares to straying Israel, “I AM THE LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8). Additionally,  Jesus tells us that many of the Old Testament Commandments can be summed up in this command: to love God with our whole being – heart, mind, soul (Luke 10:27). We can see this is true as God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

Since Christ is to be supreme in His church, the primary purpose of the arts in the local church should be to exalt Him. I say should be because most churches subscribe to one of two views concerning the place of the arts in the local church. Some churches depend on the celebrity and talent of their artists to draw people in, exalting the artist and the people they are trying to reach to Christ’s rightful place in their gatherings. Other churches do not realize the potential of believing artists to glorify God through art. They view the arts as a distraction from God. A select few even believe that the arts are only tools of the Enemy, intended to usurp Christ’s authority in His church. As a believing artist, I cannot take either stance regarding the place of the arts in the local church. One view completely discounts Christ, the other discounts the arts.

The question on my mind, believing artists’ minds, and probably some local shepherds’ minds is this: How are these attitudes going to change? It’s really simple. When Christ is in His proper place (i.e. He comes first in everything and is supreme) in a local church, the arts will also fall into their proper place! (I told you). When we recognize that Christ is to come first in ev-er-y-thing, we have to come to terms with the fact that He should also come first in the arts – especially those utilized in His church. Christ wants to be glorified and made known through artists and the arts – even in the local church.

What does this look like? This is also really simple. Make sure Christ is first in the arts in your local church. (See? I did it again). It is not about me, it is not about you, it is not about your local church, it is not about the artists – it is about Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done.  Artists and arts in the local church need to reflect that. In music, this means not only “performing” (I really hate to use that term – remember our little post on integrity) music that is Christ-centered, but for the singer or musician to be dwelling on Christ during a time of praise and worship (see Muse: Drawing Inspiration). As a film-maker, if I’m asked to produce something for a service, it is not about showcasing what I can do or “wowing” people with smoke and mirrors. It is about having a heart overflowing with Christ, so I can visually share about Him.

Christ is first.  If Christ doesn’t come first in a local church, if He doesn’t hold His church’s devotion, priorities and views become skewed, not just about the arts, but about Him! We must (must, must, must) exalt Christ and glorify God in local church arts before anything else, and His exaltation and glory should be the driving reason behind our arts.

But…

There’s more.

You’re just going to have to wait until next week to get it.

***

Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film. She is passionate about reaching and discipling artists for Jesus Christ. 

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