I attended a recent performance which left my friend distraught.
It was put up by a cell group mate in a liberal arts college, who was one of the performers in a display which really pushed us to our limits in terms of our morals and faith.
By the end of the show, my friend was left emotionally distraught. Though she chose to perform a part of the piece which didn’t force her to denounce her faith and values – she was still shaken. She felt complicit in something that had mocked and scorned her faith from every angle.
I can certainly empathise with how she felt: As a film major, I often have to work with films that don’t necessarily agree with my faith. The films may push a value set entirely contrary to my own. So how do we respond when art challenges faith? Here are two handles that might help.
TWO PRINCIPLES TO APPRECIATE ART WITH DISCERNMENT
1. At the end of the day, art is just art
It’s just art. Whatever you’re experiencing is just part of a piece by an artist expressing his thoughts and purposes creatively. His thoughts don’t have to become our own. As the viewer, we get to decide if those thoughts expressed by the piece hold any weight.
Art is specifically designed to evoke emotions and ideas, but we have full agency in deciding whether such thoughts are worth the mindspace (Philippians 4:8). Think about Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, who encouraged the Church to “test everything; hold fast what is good.”
So if we must sit through a challenging performance – hold fast to the truth of God. We will come out unshaken.
2. Stay cautious – close to the Truth
Like money, art is not evil in and of itself. It can be something that tempts us away from the truth – but it can also be used for good. So if you’re still thinking about that art piece you saw, you just need to weigh whether those thoughts are worth thinking at all – or if they throw doubt on the Word of God.
Ask God for discernment and a deeper understanding of His Word. Then we will we be able to tell what is true and what isn’t.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Christians are not called to gullibility or blind faith. If an art piece challenges your faith – that’s a good thing. It is vital to know what you stand for and why. Let challenging art strengthen your faith.
If viewing a certain art piece is unavoidable (and you know it’s not good – like horror-gore bad) ask God to help get you through it untainted. This comes up quite a bit as a film major, especially when I have to watch films that vilify biblical truth.
Such scenarios force me to lean on God and declare that my idea of truth is found only in the Word of God – not the mere opinions of man. Then I test every idea presented to me against the Bible. If the idea stands against God and His Word – no matter how appealing the artist has made it – I obey. I conform to the truth presented in the Bible.
It might sound close-minded, but it keeps me collected on solid ground (Psalm 40:2). Cautiously consuming art, we remain on the right side of truth and are not stumbled to the point of no return.
With the right perspective of art in mind, let it challenge you fairly. Then be God’s champion to engage art armed with His Word – so that others might see Him through you.