Posts tagged ‘Integrity’

June 21, 2012

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.

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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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May 18, 2012

Integrity

“Lord, I know this is going to hurt, and so I hesitate to ask it – but Lord, I ask that You will make me an artist of deep character and high integrity for the cause of Christ.”

And from this prayer, along with many other things, FortyOne20 Ministries was born.  Asking for integrity is like asking for patience: God is going to put you in situations where you are tested and grown. I asked anyway, and whenever I will catch myself in a situation that’s particularly challenging and asking why, God? Why?, God points me back to this prayer. This is exactly what you asked for. Humph.

Integrity.  It’s a loaded word. Most people have heard of it at one time or another, but very few people have a clear concept of it. Webster’s defines integrity as “uprightness, soundness of character, moral wholeness; the condition, quality or state of being complete or undivided.” When I worked as a cashier, the company explained that integrity is being who you are whether or not someone is watching.  That may be stating it simplistically, but it’s to the point: hypocrisy cannot exist with integrity. Pretense destroys integrity.

When I think of a person without integrity, I think of the storefront facades in old wester towns: ornate and elaborate on one side, but not much of anything on the other. They appear to have great character, but it’s all an act.

Integrity is a struggle for me as an artist. (I can’t say whether it’s a struggle for all artists, but I’m betting there are at least a few others like me, so I’m going to share it anyway). You see, I want to be liked.  I want my art to be liked.

When I am making a movie, writing a poem or story, or singing, the end result is the overflow of my heart. I literally put myself into what I create. When it comes time to share my art with other people, I am putting pieces of myself “out there.” So every time I sit down and create, I make a choice: I can either put myself “out there” the way I want to be seen (or the way I think people want to see me) or I can put myself “out there” the way I actually am.

Can I be honest for a minute? The way I actually am is not usually pretty.  Until about a week ago, I had kept up a personal blog for about three years. It was mostly my thoughts in response to a trial I was going through at the time. Anybody who read it can tell you that there were days when it was encouraging and uplifting, but there were also days when it was hurt, sad and angry. It wasn’t an outlet, wasn’t even me processing, it was just me.  About a year ago, the tone of my blog changed because I suddenly felt like some people didn’t like the real me. So the real Lydia took a blogging vacation, and happy/joyful/positive/fine-just-fine Lydia started writing. My readers may not have noticed, but I sure did. Suddenly, there was immense pressure to perform. I had let go of my integrity.

Before graduation last summer, I remember crying out to God in pain – many times. I remember the day I had a breakthrough. Very clearly, I felt the Holy Spirit convict me: Why are you deriving your worth from what people think and say about you? Why do you need their affirmation? Let Me affirm you.

And I began to slowly to tear down some of the walls I had built.  I think it had been going well – not too easy, not to hard (haha) – when I asked God to make me an artist of high integrity. (What was I thinking???) As a result, the old struggle of performance over reality especially in creating art has popped up again.

I want me art to be God-honoring and excellent, but I also want it to be honest. I don’t really have a solution, but I do believe it is possible to create God-glorifying, excellent and honest art. God is still teaching me how. I think I need to begin with honesty – being real before God and others – and pursue excellence from there. But it’s a journey.

“The integrity of the upright will guide them…”

Proverbs 11:3

No challenge with this one, folks. Just think about it… 🙂

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