Aesthetic the Idol
Emptiness abounds. A click of a button can become a painful reminder of the parched souls and aching hearts that may be hiding behind the faces of our closest family, neighbors, and friends. Sometimes, we see the pain; other times, we don’t find out until it is too late.
The church sees and often feels that same yearning for hope. Christians know that their faith should hold the key to broken hearts feeling love again, to trials turning to gold. They have a longing to see their brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are lost find a home where they can be loved, cared for, and feel the sunshine and warmth of peace again. Those who know brokenness want to see the pain in others healed. The Lord gave us hearts that long to see every tear wiped away.
And so the church set out to build homes: places for people to be reminded what it is like to feel, to see art and hear music that wakens a piece of their broken hearts, and to know that they are not alone. We know that the Lord loves a sincere heart. Giving Him our best to help others must surely be a blessing to Him, even if we’re not quite sure how to do it.
This is true. The world will see Christ in the church because of something we have that is different from the world. Unfortunately, with so much brokenness still in the hearts of many believers, much of the church has gotten swept up in the appearance of fulfillment in order to reach out to others. It is widely circulated today that the way to reach people and show them that the church is different is to have stylish places to meet, sell quality coffee, and create music and media content that shows real talent and skill. Some follow this idea because they believe the world will need something familiar to draw them to church. Others think that the world is so busy pushing their way of thinking that they can’t make anything of quality anymore, so that if people see Christians making good quality things, they will have to admit that God exists, because quality must be something eternal, something meaningful.
This adoration of quality is something that has distracted many Christians from following Jesus. We begin to try chasing away the darkness by embracing comedy and humor of all kinds. We want to show the world we understand “real” problems by making art and music that captures the spirit of anger, terror, and hopelessness. We want to us these things to show them that there is still hope, but because we have been focusing on refining skills and talents as a way to do the most for God, we have lost the key to salvation in all of the busyness. The beauty, the art, the music, all have a note of hollowness to them. We like to keep busy because we can often feel an ache in our hearts that tells us if we pause too long to listen to that hollow sound, we will see that all of our churches, our youth centers, our coffee shops, our hopeful homes, have become pieces of a ghost town.
You do not have the strength to heal anyone. We cannot even heal ourselves. Our words, actions, and creations can bless others, but the only way that they can be healed, can find a home, can know love and joy and laughter again, is not to have shadows of Jesus in your actions, it is to have the actual, real, full person of Jesus with them. That can be very hard to hear, because we try so hard, but living fully in our hearts and in our actions is exactly where Jesus wants to be.
The weeds and whispers of the world can be very distracting, so it is very easy for us to become separated from our Father in a culture that is basically a shiny, colorful department store to our child-like minds. Christians know in their hearts that Jesus is somewhere, but it can often feel like God is the watch-winder, and our job is just to keep ticking along until the right time comes.
As creatures made in God’s image, we have an innate desire to create. We also have a strong connection to what we create, and what things awaken that creative nature. These tendencies are wired into us so that spending time with our Father will bring us closer to Him. However, when we start thinking that our talents are their for us to use—even to use for God—we often end up creating and interacting things that draw our affections away from the heart of our Father.
Remember that it is Jesus’ goal to bring all people to Himself (John 12:32). Things that we create in and of ourselves will reflect our beliefs, but if we submit ourselves to Christ, and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the things He builds through us will actually introduce others of our precious Savior Himself! In essence, we view our talents as our tools to serve Him, but in our surrender to His will, His complete will, we become the brush, and He becomes the painter. We become the strings, and He becomes the sweet hands that give us music. He has complete freedom to love others through us, to come alongside them personally, and to wipe their tear-stained faces with His nail-scarred hands, holding them close until they are made utterly whole again.
Kneel before Him and give Him all of your heart. Trust Him with everything like Mary did in pouring out what she had for Him. Whatever others may say, they will see Him at His work on the pages of your life. Will you sing a more hopeful song without Him?
by Stephanie H.