Those of us who make things like paintings or music or novels or interesting jokes often try to categorize what it is we do. Most of the time, we use the word "art." Some people think that art is just paintings. Some people think that everything, including sewer pipes, is some form of art. Most people land somewhere in the middle, with fuzzy and often verbose definitions of art that end up missing the mark by a hair's width. Those of us who follow Jesus often try to categorize what it is we do. From the outside, some people think that it's another harmless chance to have a social event. Others see it as a dangerous, uneducated fantasy that leads people to bomb abortion clinics and post angry, politically conservative news links on the Internet. And some from the inside think it's the only moral compass for a world doomed to eternal (and very literal) fire. Most land somewhere in the middle, with the general assumption that you try to lead a good life, go to heaven, and maybe help a couple of your friends "get saved" along the way.
But in both of these instances, I find something deeply dissatisfying in the majority conclusion. In the act of creating, I feel like definitions fail what my heart wants to do. Something like, "Art is the expression of human thoughts and emotions through creative form" seems lacking. And the idea that following Jesus is all about leading a "good life" (whatever that means) and getting a few people to join my church doesn't seem like it touches on the infinity of a God who originated this amazing Universe.
I never expected, however, that I would find the closest description to what I feel about my art and faith in a song classified as "Christian contemporary music." The line disarmed me quicker than Christ disarmed Peter:
"I want to add to the beauty."
This is what I'm doing when I make music by vibrating molecules in the air, when I apply black liquid to tree pulp. This is what I'm doing when I die to myself, when I choose to love other people when it just doesn't make sense, when I fall down and realize that I am so small and that the Creator is so infinite. I am adding to the beauty of this Universe. I am aligning myself with the great Reality, a God who is love.
All this might be overwhelming if you, say, are taking an introductory drawing class or Bible study.
But I want you to know that this, before you dive deep into the technique and theology, the craft and the practice of art and faith, is the deepest and most compelling reality behind why we do this. We are made to add to the beauty. Why else would we so naturally have a compulsion to wonder where it all came from? Why do we have this draw to create, this insatiable creative drive that pulls us to make something worth being?
We are creatures created to add to the beauty. It's deep in the fabric of who we are. This divine conspiracy, the Kingdom, is a call to live in closer alignment with all that is beautiful, all that originates from the Beautiful One. The whole earth is heavy with his significance.
The song in reference is Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves.