This year might be the year the arts makes a resurgence in my life. Our church has previously housed an art gallery and a music venue, but both avenues of ministry closed for a season, never to truly reopen again. I know I am not the only person at Cornerstone who daydreams about these restarting some day soon. At the same time, my past two years have been a more cerebral journey as I have soaked in more theology than ever before. It has certainly not been a dry time, but it has not featured much in the way of artistic expression either.
As I begin dreaming about ways to engage the city, the arts keeps coming back around. And in most of what I’ve seen, it’s been one or the other in terms of being an academically rigorous church, or being an artsy church.* At least one thing or the other has been dominant. Today I had a moment of clarity.
I was thinking through whether I was called to be primarily artistic in vision with a doctrinal/reason/thought undergirding, or the other way around. I just couldn’t shake the tension of the two (and believe me, I do not think there should be a tension as though the two pulled in opposite directions, it is just what I have more often witnessed). As I mulled this over, I sensed the still, small voice saying, “Christ is over the balance.”
In other words, neither artistic endeavor, nor rigorous academic study, should be more prominent than Jesus. And if the life and expression and style of the church is truly submitted to Christ’s Lordship, then we need not worry about striking the right balance. You can apply the same thing to the evangelism/social justice debate, and easily apply it outside of ecclesiastical bounds – the various elements of my life are not autonomous but all come under the authority of Jesus. As such, all of life should be a seeking and submitting to his will, not my best idea of balance.
It is not a question of submitting arts to doctrine, or of doctrine being given artistic life. It is about both being submitted to, sourced in and for the glory of Christ.
Where have you experienced this idea of tension? How does the Lordship of Christ help you resolve the tension?
* I’ve found some definite exceptions to this recently, with places like The Line (Chicago) and Mars Hill Church (Seattle) showing how the worlds can operate together for the glory of God.