Why Christianity Needs Good Artists

Guest post by Christian Robert Shockley:

At the beginning of the book of Ezra, the King of Persia, Cyrus, decrees that the Jews should return to Jerusalem and build a house for God. Certain families are chosen to make the long journey back to Judah and rebuild a city in ruins. Cyrus decrees that these returning Jews should be assisted with whatever they need—silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, with freewill offerings meant for God.

So these Jewish men and women set out on a journey, their heads filled with questions. Why were they in captivity so long? Why are they just now able to return to their city? Why did pagan people keep so many generations from their rightful home? Many of these questions are met with painful answers of remembered disobedience. But nonetheless, they make this journey to rebuild this city as a monument to their God—they move to make a culture, new and made from the heart of their faith.

The work of the Christian artist is similar. We live in a post-Eden world filled with pain and discord as evident as the sky above. Our questions about suffering often return unanswered or with remembered failures. And what we do in the midst of this suffering, in the midst of these questions, is the most telling thing about us.

We have not experienced complete restoration, but we know what it tastes like. We’ve been told what it looks like. And we’ve been told that restoration is coming. Instead of wallowing in the ruin, we rebuild, not with the expectation that we can bring total restoration in our own power, but with anticipation that restoration is on its way.

We need artists with strong, Christian convictions to remind us that discord is abnormal in God’s world. Art made by Christians can’t be all puppies and rainbows, because we don’t live in a puppies and rainbows kind of world. That’s why good art doesn’t ignore the darker shades of the world, but doesn’t leave those darker shades as a final answer, either.

Shards of His beauty are scattered throughout the earth, wedging themselves in sunsets and mountaintops, in a baby’s laugh or a Bach symphony. These shards of beauty point us back to the only true answer to the question “from where will peace come?” Christian artists pick up these pieces, like the pieces of rubble in a desolated Jerusalem, and they build. With clay and words and paint they remind us that Jesus will bring Shalom.

Originally posted on TheBreadcrumbTrail.us

ThoughtsChristian Shockley