In our quest to be Christ-following artists, there are many questions we need to ask ourselves, and to me this question must be first and foremost. I remember early in my career, and my walk, I wanted desperately to be a professional artist/cartoonist. I was laid off the day my youngest son was born and thought I would just become a full time freelance. It did not go well. The pressures of being a stay at home dad, combined with the fact that I wasn’t that good yet, made things quite difficult. We were going broke.
Then one day I answered an ad for a cartoonist. The job would pay $10,000 and the temptation was huge! The problem was the cartoons were dirty (bordering on pornographic) cartoons. I’d like to tell you I rejected it as soon as I found out what it was, but that would be a lie. My rationalization skills went into full effect and for a short time I tried to convince myself that this would be okay. (I really thought I needed the money)
Thanks to God for a strong, godly wife and a stronger Holy Spirit, I eventually did turn it down, otherwise there would be some pretty ugly stuff floating around out there with my name on it. Answering the question “Does it honor God?” would have been really be helpful.
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit, I was being stupid and greedy. The answer to the honoring God question in that case was obvious. Sometimes it’s not. There are times where it’s not so clear, so there are some subquestions. The first one is still pretty obvious, “Does what I am about to do involve sin or the glorification of sin?” If the answer is yes your answer to the project MUST be “no.”
The next question is, “Will anyone be hurt by what I am about to do?” This one is a little harder. Notice I didn’t say “Will anyone be offended…?” If we, as Christians, shied away from every project that might offend someone, we wouldn’t be able to do anything for Jesus. To some, our very existence is offensive. This is not to say we go our of our way to be offensive. We can cover that by following the biblical admonition to speak the truth in love. I am talking about doing damage to people’s lives or reputations, causing needless hurt. Is it putting people down rather than lifting them up? Let the love of Jesus be your guide.
Does it damage or deface property? I love graffiti. I think it is amazing as an art form, however, we believers should never, ever do it anywhere uninvited. God is not honored by crime no matter how good the art is.
Finally will it be a blessing? At the end of the day, we honor God best, we demonstrate His love best when we bless and encourage, build up, and urge people toward repentance and toward Christ.
We can honor God in every aspect of our lives and art whether the subject matter is “Christian” or not, so this isn’t about me wanting you to paint pictures of Jesus. It’s actually much deeper than that. The Bible calls us Christ’s representatives, His ambassadors, which means whether or not we paint pictures of Jesus, we ARE pictures of Jesus. When we honor Him, we represent Him well.