Ever since leaving my position working in computer support and IT to start working with OM Arts, I’ve described myself as a “Full time artist”.
I am not really “full time” in the sense that most people would think of an artist–one who spends the majority of his or her day working through the process of envisioning, creating, marketing and selling art, as their primary means of support. While I am spending a lot more time now in my studio, working with galleries to display my work, going to shows and whatnot… this is still not my primary activity.
So, what am I doing?
As I consider my role with OM Arts, I think about the relationships I have built with other artists I have come to know, through OM, through my church, and through the local and online arts communities I have become a part of.
My calling is to work along side other artists; first, to help them understand God, and their relationship with Him; second, to understand themselves and their relationships with those who are around them; and third, to understand how our relationship with God flows through everything they create, transforming a broken and hurting world.
The way we understand God forms the foundation for how we understand ourselves and our place in the universe. At one point in Western civilization, art became centered around our understanding of religion, and how we were to relate to God. During the Enlightenment, art began to break away from the Church and stand on its own. However, even as we create for the sake of what we see as “beauty”, our view of the world is filtered through how we relate to God. What we find is that people, even those who make the claim of having a real, vibrant relationship with Christ, often have a distorted picture of God, a picture warped by the broken nature of our lives here in a fallen world.
Part of restoring that distorted picture of God includes understanding His creative nature. In our Protestant heritage, we have been told for hundreds of years that “art” was what the heathens did as they formed gods out of stone and gold; that our God was a God of the Word, to be worshiped through correct understanding, not through beauty or the imagination. However, when we take a step back and see how God has revealed Himself from the foundation of the world, we see that He is creative, that He is beautiful, that He expresses (and understands) our emotions, that He made us with an imagination to see beyond the tangible, here-and-now world we find ourselves in, and that He calls us to use all of those intangibles in our relationship with Him.
The way we understand ourselves forms our identity. The picture we have of ourselves is forged out of our experiences in the past, out of our current situation and the people we find ourselves among. Our identity draws our vision of the future–our hopes and dreams.
We are broken people. Some of us have found ways to cover that brokenness with a veneer of “normality”. God finds countless ways to speak into our lives to bring healing and wholeness, but the baggage of the past still weighs us down. Often, it only takes a little tweak to send us spiraling out of control, hurting those closest to us in our crash-n-burn.
However, God is a God of transformation, of sunrises and beginnings, of reconciliation and redemption. We may never see complete wholeness this side of eternity, but we can experience deep healing. Christ didn’t die on the cross simply to bring us into Heaven at some point in the future, or even to eventually return to bring about a New Heaven and New Earth… but to transform us into His likeness right now. In Christ’s eyes, we are completely whole, even as we look at ourselves and still see our brokenness. Both are true, but it takes time, prayer, understanding, and especially our holy imagination to see our view of reality transformed into God’s view.
However, even as we begin to see ourselves through God’s eyes, we suddenly realize that we are seeing the world around us in a completely different light! We are not here simply for our own satisfaction and enjoyment, but to step into our world, to reflect the Light of Christ in the darkness; the Truth of God in the confused dissonance of lies and ignorance; the Reality of the Holy Spirit in a world with its eyes tight shut.
The Church will forever struggle with its place here in the world, and we will continue to struggle along with it. However, the more we understand God, and base our identity around Him, the more comfortable we become being His voice to sing to the nations, His body to dance with joy over people, His eyes to weep over those torn apart by war and injustice, His arms to hold up the weary, His broad lap to cuddle the fatherless and His hands to feed the hungry.
My role, my full time job with OM Arts, is to see this happen, first in myself as an artist, and then in the hearts and lives of Christ following artists around the world. As artists, we have been given the special gift of an imagination filled with the Breath of Life. Perhaps the greatest “art” that I can create is to see hearts and hands and feet and voices released to fill the world around us with that Breath of Life.