Friday, July 22, 2005

Why Design is Important to God

The ultimate thought: God is the original designer. And if you think about it, His Son, Jesus, was a carpenter. Being God in the flesh, he represented an aspect of God in his profession. He is an artisan. He didn't simply chop wood. He was a craftsman, and a skilled artist like Bezalel.

The Bible begins with this notion in mind. God created everything. Therefore, a big aspect of God's character is His creativity. He invented design. In Jesus, he honored creativity and design in his original profession.

So what has happened with that realization? I don't mean the debate over evolution and intelligent design, or musical styles in the church. I am talking about people who should know better, Christians, and how they view art, design, and creativity from a worldview construct. Why do many believers often relegate creativity, aesthetics, and well-done design to an optional annoyance? Beauty is seen as less important than function, which is more a philosophy of utilitarian thought rather than Christian thought. What has happened?

Mind you, I know that there is a movement among a younger set of Christians and among so-called emergent churches. I am aware that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ take seriously the role of creativity in worship "services" and in worship music. There is even a movement towards a more market focused church, using market research, good brand strategy, and graphic design to reach people that the church has recently struggled to reach.

But I am concerned by the general lack of understanding about this aspect of God from a theological perspective. Just because a church decides that creativity is important, and they produce artwork or emotional services, doesn't mean that they understand creativity as an essential aspect of God's character and His will. Is it because it doesn't make sense that God gave us the ability to appreciate beauty, and He created everything to appeal to that aspect in our character? Is it because Satan was so successful in marring our God-like image that we simply don't value the less concrete aspects of ourselves? Maybe it is because we just don't value those things that we can't see, taste, touch, or hear? (After all, they don't make something happen like money or effort does.) Maybe we really are utilitarian thinkers.

But I have to admit that there are some who get it. They see aesthetics, design, and creativity in all aspects of their worship, career, and relationship with God. They see God as multifaceted and unpredictable. Yes, He is predictable in the way we need to understand Him; after all He is the Great Mystery. (He heals people, but He doesn't always heal someone the same way. He loves everyone, but we experience that love differently. He calls each of us to His side, but His call is different for different people. He doesn't change His mind, but He responds to our wills.) These people understand that creativity and the enjoyment of beauty is not an option, but a necessity.

I pray that we can all have this insight. (Eph. 3:14-21)

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