Two Lies Christian Artists Tell Themselves

by Bobby Gilles

in Songwriting/Hymn Workshop

LIE art by Kathleen ConklinLie #1: “I Am My Art”

No, you’re not. You are something God created. Your art is something you created. Because of this, you are higher than your art. The “least of these” in the Kingdom of God is greater than the Mona Lisa. Greater than Beethoven’s Fifth. Greater than Hamlet.

When you identify so much with your art that you make it a part of yourself, you’ve turned it into an idol. It may be the most truth-upholding, life-affirming book, song, painting or film the world has ever seen, yet God didn’t make it in his own image and Jesus didn’t hang on a cross to atone for its sins.

In the Bible, God teaches “oneness” of humankind only within the covenant of marriage (Mark 10:7-9), leading to the ultimate “oneness” within his church, the Bride of Christ (John 17:21-23, Eph. 5:25-32, Rev. 19:7-8). If you say that you and your art are one, then you are opening the floodgate to many other errors, disappointments and sins. God intends for you to delight in the work of your hands (or your brain) but to only find ultimate delight in Him.

Lie #2: “God Gave Me This Song …”

You could substitute “photograph,” “play” or any other kind of art for “song” and the danger is the same. I use the “song” example because I am a songwriter and because I’ve been on the “judge” end of many songs, as a radio music director, DJ, worship leader, writers’ group leader, mentor and collaborator.

But “God gave me this song” is only a lie when the artist infers that others should treat it in a certain way (usually to promote, publicize, record or play it). It is true that God provides the talent, passion and resources for creating works of art. It is also true that God often inspires our thoughts. It is not true that God gives us songs in the same way he gave David songs, and in the way he inspired authors to write the 66 books in the Bible.

This means that your song is not the inerrant Word of God. It also means that other people get to pass on it if they choose. Your pastor may pass on adding it to the church repertoire. Your radio station may pass on adding it to the rotation. Publishing companies and record labels may pass on it. The public may pass on it. Your friends may pass on it. Your mom may pass on it.

One, two or all of these people may be wrong. Or God may have only intended the song to be your private offering of worship back to him. And ultimately, if God accepts your worship (because you’ve been redeemed by Jesus, not because you’re talented) then this is worth more than any other sign of approval or success.

Any others? What additional false suppositions do we tell ourselves?

“Lie” photo by Kathleen Conklin, used via creative commons license

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