On Faith and Creativity
Although this is only the second issue of Havurah, we’ve already begun a tradition: Each edition will feature an article about what’s happening in the Messianic Jewish art world. At this rate—if the Lord tarries—Havurah will need to be published well into the second millennium! We at Jews for Jesus keep discovering” new creativity and hear and see believers whose talent is noteworthy.
The basis for all creativity is found in the opening words of Genesis, where the stage is set for God’s presentation of Himself as Creator. After completing His work on the seventh day, God rested. He was finished; He had created everything. But the man whom God made was created in His image; therefore man was intended to be a creator as well. The belief that man is made in the image of God emphasizes that people, like God, are creators.
The image of God working through His people affirms human creativity as a good thing. We have been endowed with the image of a Creator to be creative ourselves.
When God created the world, He was like one who finds the choicest, most well-stocked art store (you know, the ones where potential oozes from the shelves and you don’t know what to buy first). And whatever God created was set into motion to be used to re-create. He chose the finest materials: color, shape, texture, high pitch, low pitch, tears, sand and water. He used fragrance as sweet as a rose and pungent as a skunk. Movement, logic, shadow, symmetry, heat, cold and even an isosceles triangle were all His. He used harmony and discord, bitterness and sweet tree sap. And what He created was perfect.
The good news is that as those who have been created in the image of God, we have these materials available to us. The bad news is that, unlike God, we’re not perfect and sometimes we mistreat the good things He’s given us. We leave paint tubes open and they dry up. We bang too hard on the piano and create painful noise instead of melodic tones. We draw lines that are too long or too short, and even worse—we forget that the center of all things is God, and we draw circles that include ourselves but leave Him out.
The ultimate praise for anything we create should be reflected back onto God. And that is where faith must walk hand in hand with creativity.…
Because creativity can be a plunge in the dark, faith provides us with the bridge, ladder and whittler’s tool we need to capture the imprint of the hand of God and bring it into the light.
Faith is a ladder. It lifts our sights from this world and forces us to look to what God is saying and doing. It causes us to step up higher and produce something better than just ordinary because of the One for whom we’re doing it.
Faith is a bridge. It takes the work of our hands and translates it into a message that speaks of God’s love and builds relationships through which others will consider Him.
Faith is a whittling tool. It forces us to cut away, to prune, to insist on the infusion into our work of God’s truth, found in His Word. Therefore, what we produce with our hands must reflect more than what simply feels good, looks good, sounds good. It must feel, look and sound true.
In this feel-good, me-first, “whatever” world in which we live, creativity bears with it the responsibility to represent truth. Responsible art is art that is accountable and submitted to the Master Artist. Creativity apart from God can certainly bring an artist a sense of fulfillment, but self-realization and self-expression that does not recognize Him are little more than glorification of what can be an ugly word when it stands alone: self.
As those who have been created by God, and born anew by His Spirit, we bear a new mark, a Spirit-forged brand that says we are His. The question is not how or whether God will use us to express who He is but rather, how faithful will we be to use what He has given us?
The Messianic artists you’ll see and read about in the pages of Havurah have not been picked because they’re the biggest or the best, the most prolific or widely exhibited. They simply have cultivated a talent for being faithful. They are set on these pages to be an example and an inspiration to the rest of us, that if we take a little and give it to God, He will make a big “production” out of it.
In Him and because of Him,
Melissa Dell Moskowitz
Young Adult Ministry
Melissa Moskowitz has been a part of Jews for Jesus since 1976. She was born and raised in the Bronx and came to believe in Jesus while in college. Throughout her 40 years of service with the ministry, she's had the opportunity to use her giftings in youth and young adult work; in publications; through photography; and for the past 16 years in young adult ministry. Currently living on the west side of Los Angeles (to be closer to her grandson), Melissa maintains a monthly Shabbat fellowship for young adults and other events for the LA young adult community. A new initiative for the LA branch that Melissa is spearheading is ArtShareCollective/LA, a visionary community of Jewish believing artists who desire to use their creativity for the Gospel.