Thursday, June 14, 2007

To Live Is Christ

My heart was encouraged and challenged as I read the following creed composed by, Jason Harms, a musical artist who attends John Piper's church in Minneapolis.  Every statement made in it embodies the heart cry of the apostle Paul when he says that to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21).  I especially delighted in #8.  I want to know what it means to embrace such a spirit and posture in all of what I do in this life.  For this man it's making music.  For some it's building houses.  For some it's teaching 1st graders.  For some it's writing computer software.  For others it's dancing or playing basketball or swinging a golf club.  How do we do all of these things to explicitly point to the infinite excellency of our Creator and away from ourselves?  How do we receive all of these gifts of ability and expression in such a way that the Giver really does get all the glory?  I want to know so as to live in such a way and bring as many with me as possible.  May the Lord teach us more fully each day how to, "whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)."  Do you really know what this means?  I know I don't, but I thank God that through Jason Harms I am now a little closer.

"€œFor from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen."- Romans 11:36.

God was pleased to make man, and God made man with the capacities to create. Apart from God, man would not be, nor would man have any artistic, creative ability. Therefore, to engage in any artistic expression of man as though it were apart from God, is to both dishonor God, the Author of man and of artistic expression, and to deny ourselves the full pleasures that God has intended for our enjoyment in art; culminating in our enjoyment in Him, through Jesus Christ.

So with God'€™s help and to the glory of Jesus Christ alone, as I engage with art, 

I. To grow in the knowledge, love and enjoyment of God as I embrace God's skillful, aesthetic emanation of what God knows, loves and enjoys of Himself.
(Romans 1:19-20, John 17:25-26)

II. To pursue eyes that see as God sees as I am presented with all that He has put to image in what He created.
(Romans 1, 1 Samuel 16:7)

III. To boast only in Christ in my artistic labor since all things were created through Him and for Him, and in Christ all things hold together.
(Colossians 1:15-17, I Corinthians 4:7)

IV. To understand how, and to acknowledge that, my standing before God is exclusively dependant and grounded in Christ's work on the cross, and is in no way earned by any worthy artistic labor I engage in.

[Colossians 1:18-23].

V. To put my hope for satisfaction and provision in God alone through the work of Christ, and never rest my hope on art, audience or self.
(Deuteronomy 8:3).

VI. To pursue the joys of faithful obedience as a bondservant of Christ in all that He has called and charged me with in the arts.
(Galatians 1:10)

VII. To take pleasure in art for the sake of enjoying God; the Giver of art for my enjoyment.
(1 Timothy 6:17, Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

To labor to artistically articulate the kind of beauty that will continue to satisfy even after my effort at the tangible representation of that beauty has long been consumed or destroyed.
(1 Timothy 6:6-7)

IX. To labor in the arts in such a way as to lay up as much treasure in heaven as the Holy Spirit enables and my faculties allow.
(Matthew 6:19-21)

To seek the edification of others through my artistic labors.
(Romans 12:6-8)

XI. To not bed with the creeds of sterility, mediocrity or spineless-complaisancy as they all trade the grandest joys for the quick and temporal.
[Revelation 3:15-17].

XII. To not defile myself as I study, with much discipline, the "€œliterature and language" of the arts.
[Daniel 1:4)

XIII. To discipline my body and mind towards the skills that God has bestowed upon me, and that in the strength that He gives.

(Exodus 36:1, I Corinthians 15:10)

XIV. To prize humility, as humility is more valuable and more beautiful than the most aesthetically pleasing work held in the hand of pride.
(1 Peter 5:5, Philippians 2:3, Proverbs 22:4)

To seek the full pleasures to be had in art by engaging art through engaging God.
(1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Jason Harms

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