Patronage (Part III): the Eternal value of creative works

Every act of creativity is an echo of the Original spark. On a very basic level, every creative work "glorifies" God, even if it's content does not.

When God created the universe, we are told that He "spoke" and all things came to be. Yet in that speaking is contained every creative form imaginable. God sung creation into being. God danced creation into being, He sculpted, painted, and rhymed creation into being.

In the Garden, God provided humanity with the materials to work with, then he invited us to join with him in his ongoing creative process. He intentionally left creation unfinished, that we could contribute to the work. He gave Adam the creative work of naming the animals. He commissioned him to cultivate the garden. He gave Eve the mystical ability of giving birth; the pinnacle of human creativity. God told them to "be fruitful and multiply". Fifteen times in the book of Genesis, this phrase is written, thirteen times from the lips of God. The phrase in part means to "bring forth" and "grow in greatness".

Therefore, mankind's original commission is to continue God's creative work, participating and contributing to that original creativity. We are all invited to partner with him through creative cultivation of all he has made. This reason alone puts a divine mandate upon supporting the arts (and artists) as an act of co-laboring with God.

value of creativity.
Every creative work is a gift. It is first a gift given to the artist who carries it to completion then brings it forth as a gift to the world. It is a gift meant to enliven, enlighten and beautify the world.

There is a cost for the artist to bring forth his/her gift. Beyond the cost of materials and time, there is a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual cost. The act of creating involves the whole being. It is a baptism where the artist is immersed completely; plunged into the depths of himself until he emerges with (and as) a new creation to offer the world.

Because of this, no legitimate price tag can be put upon art. It functions out of a higher economy, an eternal realm. No commercial determination of value can account for an act of co-partnership with the Creator. To recognize that something has an eternal value to it, that it contains a seed of Divine origin, allows no temporal currency as payment or exchange. It can only be given as gift. Monetary exchange can only be used as a means of implying gratitude. Only a thankful response can act as commerce. (Thankfulness and gratitude being a currency of the Spirit.) That being said, artists do their spiritual work in a material world, therefore we also use the currency of this world. Even gratitude is shown through gifts of money.

The full restoration of the arts is indicative of the redemptive work of restoring the earth. Creativity is the gateway that brings heaven to earth. Imagination is the language of the spirit. Looking at creative work from this exalted perspective sheds a new light and purpose in supporting artists and musicians to do their work. Acknowledging and endorsing creative work as an essential part of God's restorative, revelatory work of bringing heaven to earth, puts a much higher value to the purpose of art. Beauty is not just ornamental, it is a commodity of the human heart. We were created with a need for beauty as well as bread. Neglecting either brings malnourishment or death.

Recognizing that we were created with an inherent need for beauty classifies all creative work as a humanitarian service. It also acknowledges that man was created to behold God who is the source and essence of all beauty. Seeing creativity from this vantage point gives us the opportunity to meet it on level with its value and purpose, one of Divine origin. It makes it a responsibility to the work of God to see and support the vocation of devoted art coming forth.

The Apostle Paul worked as a tent maker to fund his missions. I made it clear in the previous blogs, the importance of artists to support themselves even by a means other than their craft and dependency upon others generosity. Paul, however, also stated that "If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?" (2 Corinthians 9:11) Artists who have given their lives to the cultivation of their craft, should be supported (I believe primarily by individuals from the community of faith, not necessarily the institution) for the purpose of supplying their material needs, so they may be free to bring forth their gifts to the earth. Artists are by nature, ministers, priests, and prophets bearing the language and likeness of heavenly places. In this, they are no different than those called to pastoral or other recognized ministries.

When we put value on the artist's administration of bringing heaven to earth, restoring the earth, beautifying the earth, in partnership with God, it should become a joy and desire to support their work with highest intention.

The role of the artist, particularly the Christian artist is not just to paint pretty pictures of lions wearing crowns and sing songs full of tired, familiar imagery, but to stretch us beyond our current understandings and lead us further into uncharted regions of the Spirit. Their role is to pioneer and innovate a new creation in the earth.

To this end, what price could possibly be put on creative works?