Being created in the image of God is a big deal. We talk about it enough that it almost becomes unremarkable, even cliché. But it holds significant meaning for our lives and for our relationship with God. He endowed us with many things not given to any other creatures. From the freedom to sacrifice for others to the ability to consider potential outcomes of our actions, we are fundamentally different from every other organism in this universe. And one of the most interesting differences is our ability to create beauty in the form of art. So what is art, and how does it pertain to worship?
I started thinking about this after learning a bit about a local church that calls their worship ministry Worship Arts. This is their website, if you want to check it out. They think of worship as more than just music and the more I ponder it, the more I agree.
Merriam-Webster describes art in the following ways:
- Something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.
- The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.
Think about those definitions. Now read them again, this time thinking of it as a definition for worship. It really seems to fit, doesn’t it? If someone asked you what it means to worship, would you know what to say, other than to offer praise to God? I think if you understand the “important ideas or feelings” to be the greatness, holiness, and wonder of God, then this definition is right on.
I’ve mentioned before that I think music is so important to God because it is beautiful; because it is a form of art. But music is only one art form. There is also poetry, prose, dance, and all the various visual arts. When we think of worship as art, we start to see that there is a pretty broad set of things that can be used to worship God. To be true worship, what we offer needs to meet only two criteria. It must:
- Be borne of the conscious use of creative imagination and skill.
- Express praise and love to God.
If a thing meets those two criteria, I would call it worship.
Some of you may already be miles down the path on this way of thinking. If not, though, I encourage you to adopt a simpler concept of what it means to worship God. Art is one of the unique gifts God has given to us, and, by extension, it is one of the greatest offerings we can give back to him. Taking this view of worship as art will open lots of new possibilities and opportunities for members to participate in corporate worship. And those of us who are just starting to recast our thinking (including me!) would love to hear how others have succeeded in moving toward a more panoramic worship style.