With ‘God + Work Wednesdays’ I have been exploring different ways we can serve God through our vocational work. Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, is the main inspiration behind this series. It is a fantastic volume on how God relates to our work and how our work relates to God. Of the many motivating ways to serve God through work, So far I’ve wrote on furthering social justice, evangelizing co-workers, and working with skillful excellence. These are great ways to serve God but there are more… And one way to serve God is so profoundly simple, that is, by Creating Beauty.
Why is Beauty important? Beauty is important because it is an attribute of God. He is beautiful, and because He is ultimate all beauty in some way derives from His nature. It is important because God created the world and declared it good. Presumably beauty was entailed in that declaration, along with truth and moral good. Beauty can be distorted but it is still an intrinsic good. That means that creating beauty is a good thing to do, in and of itself. It is dealing with something that God cares about. It also blesses this world and the lives of many in it. Everyone knows how a piece of music can lift the soul. Or flowers can affect a neighbourhood. Beauty is important because it is important to God. When we engage in the creation of beauty we are acting upon this world in a way God has done.
Couldn’t creating beauty become frivolous or even idolatrous? Of course, creating beauty could become frivolous when it is divorced from its purpose in God. Of course, it could become idolatrous even, but so could the pursuit of social justice. In fact, anything could become idolatrous but that danger does not make something bad. In fact, only good things are in danger of being idolized. Human beings make idols out of the sun, bulls, sex, money (all good things). The important thing is that creation of beauty remain an act of worship to God and not an end in itself. The beauty we can add to this world is like a signpost towards God – the ultimate source.
How could a Christian create beauty? Creating beauty is not something that only Christians can do. Of course anybody can approach their work with this motivation. We, however, can do it with the knowledge of our beautiful Creator God. And then there is no limit to God honouring creativity. We can even become empowered by God like Bezalel was to craft the elements of the tabernacle. You should really read Exodus 31. It says he was ‘filled with the Spirit’ to accomplish his creative work – amazing! A dancer can choreograph a beautiful number or a musician writes a beautiful song (it doesn’t have to have an overtly religious theme). But not just the creative vocations make a way to serve God in this way. Anyone building or making anything with intent to beautify this world serves this end. Dentists, carpenters, architects, builders, florists, designers, singers, teachers, gardeners, shall I go on?