Sometimes, especially as artists of faith, we can feel silly for being so consumed by our art when there is so much suffering, injustice, and chaos in the world. In this episode, I talk about the ministry of our presence—the power of who we are and what we carry to release God’s goodness into the world as we go about the everyday tasks of being an artist.
Hello and welcome to the Kingdom Art Life Podcast. I'm your host, Marlita Hill, here to help you walk in wholeness, move in freedom, and work in harmony as you build your art career in collaboration with God.
You know, every once in a while, I find myself overcome with feelings of silliness. I have moments where I feel silly, for caring so much about pointing my feet, or getting my dancers to come together on count four, even speaking to artists about having freedom in their faith and art career. Yeah, every once in a while, I feel silly, for being so engaged in these things, when I see the overwhelming suffering, injustice, and chaos happening all over the world. I mean, our planet is literally having a tantrum, trying to get our attention to make some changes. And, of course, there is the normal response that immediately follows — thoughts about whether I should somehow redirect my art to try to tackle some issue, or even put my art down altogether and dedicate my time to tackling some injustice happening in the world.
But then I remember how the Lord has taught me that this creativity, this creative gift, is not for nothing, that it's not impotent to engage in this world that I live in.
That yes, is for me, but it's also producing things in me,
And the Lord is walking with me so that he can work through me as I participate in this world and the things I see.
And I wanted to encourage you in that today, just in case you too feel moments of triteness or silliness in this overwhelming sadness.
I am an avid journaler. I try to capture all my thoughts. And I often go back and look through them. The other day, I was looking through one of my journals and I found an entry from October 14 2015. And 2015 was the year I really started to flesh KAI out.
Anyway, I found this one page where I had sketched out this backward plan for KAI. And at the top, it had the end game for all this work. And that is a community of artists who make a kingdom impact and contribution to society as they create and share their work. Kingdom ambassadors in secular culture who serve as salt light fragrance and love and bring healing and reconciliation in their relationships and environments as they are led by God in their own daily life and career. And under that, I listed these four steps - 4321 - that would lead us to this end game. So from the bottom up, for number one, I wrote we need to understand and embrace who we are as artists in the kingdom.
Number two, we need to understand the liberty we have, and the responsibility we have, as Kingdom artists.
Number three, we need to understand that this liberty is for us, and for something bigger than us. Well, I guess, looking back at that now, it’s the same as number two. This was 2015, y’all. I’ve grown a lot since then. And then number four is, we need to understand how that liberty and responsibility is embodied, and practiced and manifested in our daily life and interactions. How do we live this out?
And this was a really powerful encouragement for me, because it connected me to the bigger reason I'm doing this work, which is not just so that you can feel good about yourself, although that's what I want for you. I want you to feel so free and so loved. Shoot, that's what God wants for you. But the reason I focus on you understanding how loved you are by God as His artist, and how important your creativity, your art career, and creative pursuits are to Him, the reason I focus on that is so that you are full, and you are full to the point that you are able to share and dispense that fullness when you engage with culture in and through your art career.
So I started this episode acknowledging that, as artists, it can sometimes feel like we're not doing anything, or we're not doing enough, or we're not focused on the right things, particularly as artists of faith. You know, we, necessarily can get caught up in the minutiae needed to make our art – like trying to get everyone’s arm extended by count four, or finding the right blue, or tinkering with notes and melodies. But one thing we know as artists is that art is powerful.
The art we create can confront things and question them. It can gather people. It can reveal, uncover, and interrogate things. It can empower people, create spaces for them, and open dialogue. The art we create can give people a moment of reprieve, a place to get rest from their circumstance, and a voice that validates their experience. Our art can force society to consider challenging but necessary questions. It can help people remember what's good about the world. And sometimes, we as the artist, serve different functions. Someone has to alert people there's a problem, somebody has to treat the wounded, someone has to cast vision for a better way, someone has to provide a way for people to be heard. So, yes, the art you create is powerful, and has a role to play in the injustice, chaos, and challenges happening around the world. But today, I I’m here to encourage you (and myself) in the truth about how truly powerful you are. And how powerful your presence is, as you build your career in secular spaces.
Now, again, as I always remind people because some may be listening to this podcast for the first time, I specifically speak to Christian artists, artists of faith, however you want to say it, who are working or building an art career in secular culture, and specifically, do not make art about faith,. And one of the things I talk about is how any art life can honor God, build the Kingdom, and make Christ known, no matter what you talk about, no matter where it exists, no matter who you make your art with. And that's because there are more ways for your art to honor God and participate in Kingdom purpose than just the message in your art. And one of those ways is through your person, who you are.
See, who you are builds the kingdom and makes Christ known. You are the body of Christ.
You are his body, a witness, a living epistle, the walking manifestation of His power, His concern, his love for his creation,
and anything He's going to do on this planet, He's going to do it through you, His body.
But when we think about God doing something through us, we think that we have to do something drastic, to perform these grand gestures, like sell all our stuff, put our art career down, dramatically shift what we're making art about, start a global movement, or go to some remote place on the planet. And if that's what the Lord is telling you to do, well that's one thing and more power to you. Go do that
But I'm going to challenge you to let God work through you through the Ministry of presence, the ministry of your presence.
And this is one of the big reasons I talk so much about your identity as an artist of the Kingdom—because I want you to understand who you are.
And part of understanding who you are is challenging how you see yourself and addressing how you how you see your responsibility as a Christian, as an artist, and as a kingdom citizen. It’s addressing the expectations you think you have to live up to and what it looks like to fulfill those expectations.
And that's important because it shapes how you show up and engage in the spaces you occupy in your creative life. Either you're going in there thinking you have to be, say, do, or look like something to be honorable to your faith. And that affects how you go into your creative spaces.
Or you may be struggling with feeling divided or disconnected, like your faith and art are working against each other or can’t live in the same space. And that affects how you go into spaces. Or, you’re convinced that being a Christian will cause you to be ostracized. And that affects the way you show up and engage in spaces.
Or you know that you are a person in a single experience and you're free to be who you are. You know there is no expectation of you, but to simply be who you are, and be led by the Spirit of God in that. And that affects how you show up in spaces.
So let me say it plainly: the only expectation you have as an artist in Christ is to be who you are and let the Lord lead you as you are being. But let me tell you a little more about who you be.
The Bible says You are the salt of the earth.
It says you are the light of the world.
You are the fragrance of Christ. Well, technically it says through you, God diffuses the fragrance of Christ, but go with me, you are the fragrance of Christ.
And you are the dispenser of God's love.
That's who you are, before you ever do anything. That's how you step into a room. You don't have to say or do anything.
As you go out into the world and engage in the day to day living of doing your art, that's who you are.
And the powerful thing is the world needs who you are. The world needs what you carry. And as you busy yourself in the magical mundanity of making art, you are releasing who you are in the relationships and space you occupy and encounter. That salt, that fragrance, that light, that love—
You're releasing that.
You're allowing people to receive from that and live in that and take refuge in that when they're around you, when they work with you, and when they experience your work.
In Mark 4:30, Jesus is teaching and He asks to what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable Shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed, which when it is sown on the ground is smaller than all the seeds on Earth. But when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs and shoots out large branches so that the birds of the air may nest under it shade.
What a beautiful picture of this entity, this thing doesn't seem very big. It's the smallest of the seeds. It doesn’t seem like it's doing very much. It seems like you need something grander, bigger. But, it becomes greater than everything else. And it shoots out these huge branches birds use to build nests, and homes, and they rest under the branches’ shade. That's a beautiful picture.
But here's the more beautiful thing: In Luke 17:21, Jesus tells you the kingdom of God is in you. This kingdom, that doesn't seem like a lot, but shoots out these large branches that provide residence and rest and shade and shelter and refuge for other beings—
That capacity is in you.
That kingdom is in you.
You are the carrier of that kingdom. And through your presence, you allow people to experience it.
And I talk to you so much about who you are, how loved you are and how welcome your creative expression is to your Father because I don’t want funky thinking dirtying and dimming and cutting off your light. I don't want your light to be dim or dingy because you're walking around with guilt and feeling disconnected.
I don't want the potency and reach of your fragrance to be compromised because you mix it with weird beliefs that have weird odors that mess with your fragrance.
I don't want your salt to be something it's not supposed to be, because you know, salt can be a fertilizer, but it can also kill things. And I don’t want guilt or a misplaced sense of duty to cause you to go into places crazy and mess up divine relationships.
Who you are is very powerful and you can just be that and let the Lord lead you in it. You know those people who make you say, Man, things are just better when you're here. You know those kinds of people? Well, that's you. You're that person.
But you need to allow yourself to be that person.
without all the gunk and junk clouding up and plugging up your pores and stopping the release of your essence.
You are a double whammy. Not only is your content powerful and has the capacity to speak into this craziness in this world, but you are the body of Christ. And if God is going to do anything in this earth, which He is, it's going to come through you. And I don't want anything to get in the way of His work coming through you because the earth is groaning and travailing for the manifestation of the sons of God,
of those with God's nature and character, his likeness,
those that represent him, his ambassadors.
So I wanted to encourage you in who you are today, just in case you experience small moments of feeling silly as well. Also, I wanted to let you know where you could hear more about some of the ideas I mentioned in this episode. They are in my book, Defying Discord and this podcast.
In Episode 2 of the podcast, and chapter three of the book is where I talk about how any art life can serve God, through the person you are, the way you navigate your art life, and the work you produce.
In Episode 14, and 15, as well as chapter four of the book, I talk about this idea of just being who you are and of being an ambassador in another culture, as we are Kingdom ambassadors in secular culture.
In chapter five of the book, I talk extensively about this idea of being salt, light, fragrance and love
And in Episode 4 of the podcast, I talk about this idea of how we define ourselves. I hope those are helpful for you.
Alright, Be blessed and I’ll see you in the next episode!
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Do you ever experience those moments of feeling a little silly? How has the Lord ministered to you in those times and/or how did this episode speak to that feeling?