Ditch the Labels

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I really enjoyed interviewing Benji last week, and he gave me a lot to think about, in particular his view on Christian culture toward creativity. In his interview, he makes a point that as Image-Bearers we were created to create and delight in it. We don’t need to label our creativity as “Christian” and we don’t need to “conquer” the world and make it all “Christian”.

I come from an evangelical upbringing where being a witness for Christ was reinforced. And anything we did, whether creatively or practically, should be used as a witness to the world. If you’re gonna write a book, it should mention God. If you’re gonna paint, add the cross. If you’re gonna sing and play guitar, lead worship at a Bible study. If you go to church, serve in a ministry.

I grew up thinking my creative endeavors needed to shout out “Jesus Saves!”, and if they didn’t then they had no value. (There are some people in my life who still don’t see my writing having much value or being a reflection of God’s creativity in me because there is no Christian label on it). And I would feel guilty for not writing stories where the protagonist repented and became a believer at the end of the story. I would also feel guilty if I wanted to try something new just for the sake of enjoying it and not trying to push people to Christ. I would try to find a way to “Christianize” my creation to justify it, as if by doing this would give it value and clout.

There are quite a few problems with this mindset: IMG_9184

  1. It’s works-based, making me strive to use all my means necessary to further God’s kingdom. I delude myself thinking that if I don’t use my creativity to share the Gospel, then the world will never know about Jesus.
  2. I miss out. I avoid things not because they are sinful, but because they don’t have a Christian label and therefore are a waste of my life.
  3. As a Christian, I have to “do without”, “deny”, and “avoid.” This is the message I send to the world about being a follower of Christ. To quote Benji from one of his sermons, “It’s eating liver and drinking prune juice.”

Through the years, God has shifted my thinking as the holes in my theology have been filling in. My mindset is different:IMG_9186

  1. It’s God-centered. I don’t have to strive. God’s kingdom will be expanded with or without me. He can use any means to do this, and in His grace he can use me and my creativity. I can rest in that.
  2. I can fully enjoy life and this wondrous world He created. I can pursue anything (aside from sin, obviously) and simply enjoy and delight in it and worship God through it all.
  3. As a Christian, I should be living fully. As an Image-Bearer tapped into the Creator, I should be free in my creativity. This life style of freedom and delight and fullness will attract a dead world more than liver and prune juice ever will.

I don’t need to “Christianize” my creativity to give it value. It’s worth something because I created it. I have only started to see this as my theology has been bolstered. I’m grateful to Benji who God is using to do this on Sundays and through this interview.

As Sinclair Ferguson says in his book Devoted to God: “Knowing whose you are, who you are, and what you are for settles basic issues about how you live.”

I belong to the Creator, and I was created to create. And that’s enough.

 

2 thoughts on “Ditch the Labels”

  1. So good! We talk about this in our home a lot! Rembrandt never painted “Christian” art but because he was a masterful painter doing excellent work, the world recognized him and his art influenced culture and changed the world!

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