“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4
Scriptures affirm that the master Artisan is beautiful. He filled creation with His beauty; and while humankind is a product of that artistry, we are more than an outcome of it. We are explicitly designed to contribute to it, to cultivate creation and craft creativity.
Without the Spirit, people can recognize beauty, for the imago Dei remains etched within them. This is because beauty has something to say and speaks a language universal. We bring a bouquet to the hospitalized to articulate our love and concern when words escape us. Screensavers of Monet’s Water-Lilies and Ansel Adams’ Moonrise whisper of the glory and adventure outside our air-conditioned cubicles and restrictive existences. The loveliness of an A-line skirt or classic updo convey the confidence we sometimes lack. Beauty has something to say and, through art, it reaches into our everyday lives to say it.
Sadly, people without the Spirit cannot understand that this beauty is the handiwork of Elohim. With the Spirit, however, people receive the Giver and His gifts, such as restored senses and reason, imagination, insight, and light. So when an artist with the Spirit encounters something of interest or import, something she wishes to explore or explain, she follows the inspiration of the Spirit and uses her voice to express her ideas freely and fully.
This truth echoes throughout Scripture: the Holy Spirit inspires. He stirred prophets to prophesy and writers to pen God’s words (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit inspired the song of Mary, exciting her with passion to sing praise that begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47 esv). After walking across the Red Sea and receiving inspiration from the Spirit, Miriam took a tambourine and a troop of women and led worship with a new song: “For he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea” (Exodus 15:21 esv).
The Spirit met David in the everyday of life: shepherding, strumming a lyre, suffering. David used poetry and music as his mouthpiece, to confess sins with Bathsheba (Psalm 51), admit frustration with his fugitive status (Psalm 59), and to convey fervor for God’s house and creation (Psalm 69:9, 30-36). As he expressed himself authentically and met with God intimately, David heard the voice of beauty. “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me,” said David. “His word is on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2 esv). Beauty had something to say, and through the art of poetry, transformed the heart of a king, a nation, and countless people thereafter.
Inspiration from the Giver continues. He grants wisdom and revelation to believers so, “having the eyes of [our] hearts enlightened, [we] may know what is the hope to which he has called[us]:” life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17–18 esv). Filled with hope and inspired by the Spirit, we can cultivate creativity.
Artistic endeavors lead us to lean in and listen to beauty, exploring mystery and expressing meaning. Christians should stand at the forefront of such activities because we know the One who created and gives purpose to all that exists. Through various forms of art, God invites us to join Him in using the tangible things of this world to point to greater realities of His personhood, promises, and providence. Beloved, pick up the pen or paintbrush because “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”