“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23
Fighting for beauty is a shift in our perspective to look for beauty in all areas of life—loving others well, being selfless, valuing God’s creation. And we fight because we know how much God values these things. But there is one area that many of us may forget in the battle for beauty: the arts. For the rest of this study, we’ll look at the arts as a particular way to fight for beauty.
THE IMPACT OF THE ARTS
Which books, films, paintings, or poems have influenced you? Name three moments in your life when a creative work deeply touched you or caused you to ponder the world in a different way. What was it about that film, book, song, or other work that so inspired you?
This exercise gives us a glimpse into the power of the arts, and why it is so important to fight with all our heart for beauty in this world. As creatures made in the image of God, our souls are designed to be influenced by the creative arts in ways that help us to remember who we are, and who God is. In a very real way, the arts make us human.
CREATED PEOPLE NEED CREATIVE ARTS
In a consumer culture that tends to ignore the big questions of existence and meaning while feeding us reality shows and passive entertainment, engaging with the creative arts can electrify our souls with depth and beauty. “Superficiality is the curse of our age,” writes Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline. “The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”
The creative arts deepen us and help us to see more truly who we are as human beings, what our condition is, and, ultimately, what we worship. “Creativity is not an end in itself,” Howard Hendricks writes. “Creativity is a means to achieving something better, something more salutary, productive, or beautiful. It exists for improvement, not impression . . . The gift is given for a purpose: The chief end of man is to glorify God, not man.”
BATTLING FOR BEAUTY
It is no accident that we respond to music, poetry, or paintings with powerful longings. As creative beings made in the image of our Creator God, we can view the arts as something God designed to influence and minister to us. Besides the beauty of creation, we see the arts displayed by God in the poetry and songs of Scripture, in the exquisite craftsmanship of the tabernacle and temples, and in the life of Jesus, who sanctified art through working with His hands as a carpenter and using verbal craftsmanship to tell stories and parables.
In this fallen world, however, creative beauty does not come easy; we have to fight hard for it. We fight against entropy (things break down and die because of the curse), against the powers of darkness that only want to kill and destroy (John 10:10), and against our own apathy. By investing in the “fight” for beauty, we declare that God Himself wants us to be an active part of this role in restoration. It’s because we believe, like Samwise Gamgee from the movie version of Lord of the Rings, that “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”