The Arts in 2024

Picture This 

(illustrations by Bjorn Schmid, June 2024) 

An amazing painting is put on display at one of the biggest art galleries on Earth. People from across the world come to see it and their murmurs and exclamations of surprise and wonder are continuous. 

The artist who created the picture is present there on a day when one of the world’s top leaders comes to see the painting. The leader arrives with a massive entourage and much fanfare. He stops and looks hard at the painting for a moment, then turns around and heads straight to the artist followed by his train of people. 

The artist is surprised by the approach of this leader as few of the visitors even recognise the artist or come to congratulate her or even talk to her. The leader does not compliment the artist, but instead asks directly “Why is there a speck of black in the sun?” 

She smiles so sweetly and proudly, as if someone was complimenting her on one of her children, and responds calmly, “Because that speck represents my talent in painting, blocking God’s talent and glory that you see in the rest of the picture.” 

Now the leader is surprised, and after a moment says, “Indeed, God is greater than all of us. You have admitted your limitation publicly. May He bless you with long life and many gifts you can share with us!” 

He bows to the artist and turns to all the spectators and media watching in shocked silence, gives them a little wave and sweeps out of the gallery with his entourage, leaving the artist in the centre of a silent room filled with people looking at her. 

“Amen, thank you Jesus” is all she says and walks out to an exit door for staff and special guests, opens it and walks through without looking back. As the door closes, the room behind her explodes into the sound of many voices shouting different things. 


A new story book is published by an established author and sells millions of copies within the first week, breaking many book sales records for new novels. The author comes to a little bookshop in the same city he lives once a week to see his readers and have a quiet lunch with the owner of the shop. 

One day the author is confronted by an angry man who wants a refund on his purchase. The man has already tried to get a refund from the store, which has refused him since the paperback is now damaged, apparently from being crushed by the man holding it curled up in his fist and using it to bang every table and counter near him as he yells at everyone. 

“This book is junk!” he declares angrily in front of the author, “You can’t even spell simple words and the story is rubbish!” 

The author calmly says getting out his wallet, “Of course, how much did you pay for it?” 

“Too much! You should pay everyone back for this trash!” continues the man loudly. 

The author gently responds. “I am happy to give a refund to anyone who has originally purchased the book and is not satisfied with it. I say so on the copyright page, and since I am also the publisher, that promise will be kept. How much did you pay for it?” 

The angry man is trying hard to keep his anger and the public attention he is receiving going. “You print this garbage and expect people to pay good money for it! You should be ashamed!” 

“Where is the spelling mistake?” asks the author trying to direct the man’s anger to some resolution. 

“Here, here!” the man screams opening the book at a partly torn page. “Here you misspelt ‘sell fish’ as ‘selfish’! See!” he stabs with the index finger of his free hand “Here, here!” 

The author continues his calm responses, “That’s not really a spelling mistake, that could be a play on words.” 

“Wrong, it’s wrong! Refund everyone now!” insists the man, seeing that people around are now starting to look at him in annoyance and someone at the back is on the telephone. 

“I am by no means perfect and that’s why I offer everyone a refund who is not satisfied with the book. I actually left that mistake in for a reason. All my books have mistakes that I leave in them” explains the author. 

“What, you deliberately leave mistakes in your books?” the man incredulously throws back at the author. 

“Yes, I can’t pick up everything of course, I’m only human, but I always leave one mistake in my books so people know they’re not perfect and I’m not perfect. That is why I always offer refunds to anyone who is not satisfied with their purchase from me.” 

“You’re mad!” exclaims the man. 

“No, I’m imperfect. Only God is perfect, and everything He writes is perfect, and complete, and true” declares the author. 

The man is totally deflated now and just stares at the author. People around also stare at the two men, including two police officers who have just arrived. 

“Would you like a refund?” asks the author quietly to the man. 

After a moment’s pause, the man responds calmly, “No, that’s OK. I’ll keep it.” 

“You’re welcome. Come back any Wednesday, I’m usually here on Wednesdays. We can have a coffee if you like and discuss God’s perfection solution to our imperfections” offers the author. 

“Sure, yeah. Hey, can we have a coffee now?” asks the man meekly. 

“Why not!” says the author brightly. 

The two men wander out of the bookshop through the front doors in close discussion and head into the café next door, totally oblivious to the silent crowd of people staring at them. 


A sculptor becomes very famous for her beautiful sculptures of animals and people. Many of her creations are snapped up by galleries and private collectors who proudly display the works they own to get the attention of the media. 

One day the sculptor is present at the release of a stunning modernistic sculpture of Jesus on the cross for a cathedral. The cross is surrounded by many people reaching out to Him with desperate arms to touch Him. 

One of the crowd viewing the sculpture turns to the sculptor and asks, “Why do you always sculpt people with their eyes closed or without eyes?” 

The sculptor smiles and responds, “Do you know, you are the first person to ask that question of me?” 

The eyebrows of the person asking raise up is surprise, and they continue, “But here you have made Jesus with His eyes open looking out at the crowd and at us.” 

“Yes,” responded the sculptor, “He sees, we don’t see. Unless we see through His eyes of course.” 

The questioner pauses obviously considering what the sculptor has said. Then they ask somewhat loudly, “So you think we’re all blind then?” This statement attract the attention of most of the viewers present. 

“Without God, we are blind. He made us that way on Earth, and only He can open our eyes. Unless we rely on Him to see for us here, we stumble through life like blind people. We need to trust Him to see what He wants us to see, when He wants us to see things.” replies the sculptor calmly. 

“He made us blind? Why?” demands another person close by. 

“Because the spiritual world is not for babies to see until they are old enough.” declares the sculptor. “If we are willing, He prepares us in this temporary world for that eternal world. We’re like kittens, born blind, but one day our eyes will open, and we will see.” 

“When will we see, what will we see?” asks a third visitor. 

“We will see in full after we leave this kindergarten physical existence,” answers the sculptor. “The details of what we will see I do not know, but if God is putting us through this beautiful but painful preparation here, as a totally loving parent He must have His reasons. We just need to humble ourselves and trust Him and His love for us totally.” 

By this time in the conversation, most of the viewers have left or moved uncomfortably away from the sculptor and the handful of people that are discussing these things with her. 

The second person reads softly out loud the inscription below the sculpture; “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live even though they die, and whomever lives through believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Amen” responds the sculptor and a couple of the remaining viewers. 

* John 11:25-26 

The creative arts – a biblical Christian perspective 

(An excerpt from “Rubber on the Road Christian Thinking – An exploration of a Biblical Christian worldview and its application to contemporary Christian thought” by Ray Tiller, Equipping Christian Schools – – originally published in the Transforming Sydney Newsletter, July 2015) 

Christians may ask the following questions about the creative arts and their place in community: 

  •  What is the source and nature of human creativity and what effect has sin and the fall had on it? 
  • How can we define what is beautiful? 
  • Is the definition entirely relative, or are there biblical Christian aesthetic standards? 
  • Does God care what our creativity produces? 
  • Is a perception of beauty changed by a religious position or focus of worship? 
  • What are the purposes of artistic expression? 
  • What effect will artistic expression have on society and culture? 
  • Should Christian artists represent ideals or reality? 
  • If reality should be represented in art, why and under what constraints? 
  • Does a Christian artist have any responsibilities towards his audience and society?  
  • Is it legitimate for an artist to be self-serving in his expression, and/or should his expression be seen as service or ministry to others? 

Written with view to a biblical Christian perspective, the following thoughts may be helpful to readers, especially those who are involved in teaching young people:  

The creative arts, in the forms of the performing arts, music, and visual arts, are an expression of creativity with which God has endowed man. This creativity is a part of the ‘image of God’ in mankind. Through sin, creativity has been corrupted, but through the regeneration of Christ in Christian artists, it can be redeemed. For a Christian teacher, creative arts education should involve training students to understand, appreciate, and apply godly aesthetics; understand the functions of creative arts in society; and be committed, as Christian artists, to bear responsibility for the effects on society of their artistic activities. 

Christian aesthetics—what is considered beautiful? 

The aesthetics of a culture is the set of mental or affective ‘rules’ for what is considered tasteful or beautiful. These rules are dependent on the worldview (and its focus of worship) of the culture. 

For example, a culture that worships demons will have ugliness, distortion, terror and treachery as the centre of its aesthetics. Similarly, a culture that has man at its centre will generate an aesthetic that falsely and idealistically glorifies the form and perfection of humanity; or it will display the disillusionment of a disfigured, hopeless humanity and existence. 

In contrast, a culture placing God as the centre of worship will have an aesthetic based on the qualities of God—beauty, proportion, peace, reality, love, etc. 

Christian aesthetics, then, judges the expression of beauty of an artistic work by comparing it to the qualities of God expressed in His Word and in His creation.  We need to be aware, however, that the created beauty that we and our students see around us is marred to varying degrees by the cosmic effects of the fall and the sinfulness of man (See Rubber on the Road Christian Thinking statement #32 – Disasters & Suffering).  As a consequence, much of the artistic expression that surrounds us reflects a “normality” of brokenness, horror, deception, disillusionment, etc. 

Although our students will need to process this material, there is a danger that they will be overwhelmed by it and conform their aesthetic perceptions and preferences to the world’s brokenness rather than God’s beauty.  If we allow them to be so conformed, they will be incapable of bringing the transforming life of God’s grace, wisdom and beauty to their artistic expression. You might like to read Romans 12 v 1 – 2 in the light of transforming the aesthetics of artistic expression: 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

The Christian creative arts teacher’s response to this concern ought to include two components: 

  1. Use the “broken” aspects of the aesthetic that we see around us to help your students to identify the terrible effects of human sinfulness on people, their culture, and their environment. Art, after all, provides an affective view of the reality of the society around us, and a Christian arts student should be philosophically equipped to understand, critique, rise above, then bring God’s transforming grace, wisdom, truth, and beauty to it. 
  2. Expose students to artistic expression which demonstrates wholeness and beauty coming out of people and societies which have (relatively speaking) been more aligned to God’s wisdom, grace, and beauty.  Their aesthetic perceptions and preferences will thus be realigned and they will be equipped to bring the transforming influence of God’s beauty and truth through their artistic expression. 

The purposes of artistic expression 

Christian artists will see that their creative gifts come from God, who gives them for the same reason that He gives us any gift—for the service of God and fellow man. 

Christian creative arts expression, then, is not for gratuitous expression of the self, or an attempt to gain recognition for the artist, but it is for God’s glory and the enrichment and blessing of others.  In particular we should teach our students to see their artistic gifts as being purposed to: 

  1. Enhance the quality of human life of both the artist and the audience by portraying in art form something that arouses a sense of pleasure or adds meaning to life. In this function, a Christian aesthetic will positively enhance the emotional, physical, moral, and spiritual life of the community. 
  2. Represent a view of the reality of the current social and physical environment—in this function, an art form will inform our understanding and appreciation of life by portraying the current manifestations of the prevailing worldview of the culture. Viewing reality through God’s perspectives, a Christian artist will seek to portray reality in a way that shows the good and evil of the society for what it is. A Christian artistic representation of good and evil will thus point to truth and will enhance the wholeness of society. On the other hand, a depraved artist (for example, one whose worldview and aesthetic has a demonic centre) will express his art in a way that sees as normal and glories in the ugliness and distortion of life. Such art will contribute to the acceleration of the spiritual, moral, and physical demise of the society. 
  3. Represent ideals for the social and physical environment—in the face of current reality, art may portray what ought to be. In this function, the Christian artist will encourage us to strive for better or higher things in life, and seek to influence the society towards wholeness. In contrast, a depraved artistic expression will influence society towards depravity. 

The responsibility of the Christian artist 

Given the nature of aesthetics and the purpose of artistic expression, Christian artists are responsible, in personal obedience to God and diligent personal development to: 

  • understand and apply God’s beauty, wisdom, grace and truth to their artistic expression. 
  • learn to critique and avoid being seduced by the ungodly aesthetics of the culture around them. 
  • diligently develop their artistic gifts so that they are competent and skilled in their artistic expressions. 

The artist as Prima Donna or servant minister? 

Like any other gift, ability, or resource that God gives us, we have to make choices about whether we use our artistic gifts to glorify, indulge, or enrich ourselves, or to serve others. 

Those gifted in the creative arts face an enormous temptation to use their gift to draw attention to themselves and see their audiences as “consumer goods” to indulge their own egos.  Our fashion, Hollywood, and media driven culture saturates our young people with such a self-indulging “prima donna” mentality. 

As Christian arts teachers, we should seek to train our students to: 

  • recognise that God is the giver of the gift, so having an artistic gift doe not make the artist better than other people. 
  • view their artistic expression through the value of humility. 
  • avoid the self-centred “Prima Donna” attitude in their artistic expression; for example, a performer going on stage should not be thinking, “I hope everybody out there thinks I am great! – after all, it’s all about me!!” 
  • seek to use their artistic gifts to serve God and their fellow man; for example, a performer going on stage should be thinking, “I hope everyone out there benefits from what I do – after all, it is all about them!”.  


In the bigger picture, Christian artists should be aware of and take responsibility for the effect of their artistic expression on the individual and societies to whom they minister. 

Pray for the Sphere of the Arts 

(extracts from 40 Days Prayer and Fasting for 7 Mountains or Spheres of Influence by Lilian Schmid, available on Amazon & Kindle) 

The Lord said to Moses: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:2-5 ESV) God is the one who allows skills and gifts to be placed upon someone’s life. 

Although the word ‘art’ is not easily found in the Bible we know that it exists based on God’s creating quality. God is glorified by beauty. We read in 1 Kings 6 when Solomon is building a temple for God. The details given paints an image of artistry and skill. Solomon knew that God would be pleased by the beauty at the hands of His craftsman. 

Solomon also compares the beauty of a bride to: “the work of an artist’s hands.” (Song of Solomon 7:1b NIV) Solomon is praising God for the art that God creates in us; God’s hands create beauty. Although the word ‘art’ first appears in Exodus, we can see God being an artist in Genesis when He designs everything in existence that He creates. 

The term ‘The Arts’ includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television programs, radio programs, film, video, tape, and sound recording and production. The arts relate to the presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of major art forms, and all traditional arts practiced by the diverse peoples of any country. 

Pray for artists, visual designers, graphic designers, content creators, and all who work in the Arts, and those who appreciate their works, to recognise and acknowledge that our Creator God is the source of all true beauty and enjoyment. 

Pray for God to release people in this sphere and pour His purifying love, joy and peace into their hearts so they will affect all around them and who see and hear their works to be transformed towards God’s everlasting and ever-new beauty and excellence. 

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