“The next generation will be fully released in the power of creativity.”
Creativity is not just about the art, but about the message behind it. Movies, television, music, magazines, computer screens, and billboards all scream at us, vying for our attention and our dollars. But more often than not, what is being sold is not just a product, but a message. I am not talking about the old “if you use this deodorant/toothpaste/chewing gum you will look like this professional model and get this boyfriend/girlfriend” thing. We are all pretty wise to that. I am talking about a much deeper communication of values, philosophy, and lifestyle that is bombarding us everywhere we go, consciously and subconsciously.
Philosophies—mindsets—with roots in powerful, dark spiritual forces warring for the souls of this generation are being communicated through advertisements for mundane products like jeans and sneakers. The prince of darkness is bloodthirsty for the souls of this generation. All the while, we are largely blind to the spiritual messages being sent out through the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of images that invade our senses every day. Flying on the wings of creativity, impulses of licentiousness and rebellious independence are shot like arrows into our consciousness, and we don’t even realize it. We think we have seen a commercial for sneakers, deodorant, or an automobile; in reality, we have experienced a message of individualism and humanistic reliance on self. We think we have seen an ad for clothing; in reality, we have experienced an invitation to a lifestyle of soulish power and sexual “freedom.”
Though we may not act on these impulses, it is impossible to measure their impact on our souls, and more urgently, on the souls of our children. Innocence wanes, fantasies tempt, and our eyes are clouded by a haze of seductive evil masquerading as the “lifestyle of the new millennium.” Values are conveyed through subtle messages that creatively captivate our imaginations. All of this is accomplished through the tool, the vehicle, of creativity.
Well, guess what? God, our God, is the source and wellspring of all creativity! And this generation is about to take back, with a vengeance, the tools of communication that have been handed over to the dark side.
You may have heard it taught that the Church will recapture the arts. I believe we will not simply recapture the arts, but we will receive the spirit of creativity, the motivating power behind the arts. Artistic expression will be restored for use in worship, and we will also have released upon us the spirit of creativity—the ability to create new and more powerful songs and sounds, dances and dramas, pictures and sculptures. I believe the Church will even soar into new art forms as vehicles of worship and evangelism.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
It is clear from Church history that the Church once set the standard for artistic expression throughout the world. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to J.S. Bach’s oratorios to Handel’s Messiah, the Church set the standard for beauty and excellence. Art was a discipline that ultimately produced works dedicated to God. Whether the artists themselves actually had a personal walk with God varies, of course, and with some, we will never know. But the fact remained that the Church saw as part of its mission the responsibility of telling the story of the Lord by introducing expressions of excellence and beauty to the world.
But we can look back much farther than the Church. The Old Testament gives many accounts of anointing resting on artists and their work and describes their talent being consecrated to the Lord. In Exodus 31, the anointing of the Lord rested on those who were to fashion the house of God. Their abilities were seen not just as natural talent, but as a supernatural endowment for Kingdom purposes.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also, I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you
It was not only visual beauty and excellence that surrounded the temple of the Lord. One cannot read the Old Testament without the clear understanding that God likes music! Imagine the cacophony of sound that accompanied the bringing up of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark.
So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps
(1 Chronicles 15:19-28).
It is clear then, from Scripture and Church history, that artistic and creative expressions were not merely an appendage to worship, or something outside the realm occupied by God’s people. Rather, those who were anointed by God in these gifts were to be recognized and released into their callings with the belief that the creative spirit, which came from God, would bring glory to Him and, in so doing, draw people’s attention to Him.
This generation will rise up with new anointing and authority in the creative domain; it will bring forth anointed sounds and sights that will glorify God and draw men to Jesus. Casting off the restraints of the spirit of religion, a torrent of creative power will break through the dam of fear and brittle dryness. The marrow of creative anointing will be released into the dry bones of dead, religious institutions, bringing forth life.
In the past, rather than discipling, equipping, and releasing our filmmakers, dancers, musicians, and artists, we created a subculture called Christian art. We forced these talented believers to squeeze into that subculture rather than allowing them to be salt and light to the kingdoms of this world. We did the exact opposite of what Jesus commanded when He said, “Go ye into all the world…” (Mark 16:15 KJV). He was not excluding the domain of creativity from the Great Commission. He is the Source of it and Lord of all! We are to go and raise a standard of righteous excellence in these realms and capture them for Him. We are not to hide the “light” of evangelistic creativity under the “bushel” of Christian subculture (See Mathew 5:15).
The limits we have placed on the spirit of creativity have been based in fear and the pride of our own ethnocentricity. Just as Saul’s daughter Michal cursed David, our own barrenness of spirit has motivated our attack on those with the spirit of David.(See 2 Samuel 6:16-23) All too often, we label as fleshly, soulish, or even demonic the things that are simply outside the realm of our experience.
I will never forget taking our youth group to a regional worship event when I was a youth pastor in my first ministry position. A coalition of several youth groups sponsored these events from time to time, and I was on the steering committee. Most of the churches there were more mainline denominations, but my church had a more charismatic background. Our little youth group was anything but inhibited.
The worship team got going and began singing a song that said, “I will sing/dance/clap as David did.” The other youth groups kind of stood there, halfheartedly mouthing the words. Our group viewed the words as an invitation to action and began to do exactly what the songs were calling for—clapping, shouting and (gasp!) dancing.
One of the other leaders came over to me, obviously very displeased and very flustered. “Don’t you see what is happening?” he said. “These kids are dancing in the church!”
“No,” the words came to me, “the church is dancing in the building.”
Let the dancers dance! Let the singers sing! Let the writers write! Let the artisans create! All who were born for this hour—to show forth the beauty of the Lord, to adorn His Bride with garments of praise, and to raise up His fallen tabernacle—hear the word of the Lord! Be free! Be released! Run to Him, and in His presence let the yearning of your heart to express your love and adoration for Him be restrained no more. It matters not if you are alone in your living room or in a congregation of thousands—yours is an audience of One. You sing, act, play, create, express for His pleasure and His pleasure alone.