There have been occasions throughout my career where people have questioned whether or not what I do is making idols. The answer is no… most of the time. I’ve spent the last few days making idols, but it’s okay. Here are the idols.
You see they’re not really idols, they’re pictures of things we idolize, or more correctly the idols at the core of so much of our idolatry problems, the quests for comfort, control and significance. I have been commissioned to create these for a youth retreat this weekend. I can’t say much more than that, the event is still to come, but these guys will be having a bad weekend.
There is a real danger of idolatry in all of our lives, especially the lives of believing creatives. It’s pretty easy to get our priorities messed up and move our creations onto a type of altar. I know this because I’ve done it.So how do you avoid it?
A couple of things: First of all, bathe your work in prayer. It’s hard to put something else on the throne of your life if Christ is firmly seated there.
Next: Build rest into your schedule. If you can still take a break and rest, without worrying it will all fall apart, your art is probably still in it’s right place.
Finally, keep yourself in check by checking yourself. Ask yourself about your priorities frequently and be honest with yourself. Also accountability is a key. Get someone you trust to keep you in check.
The other side of this is how people receive your work. You don’t have a lot of control over that, but you can be sure to explain what it is that you’re trying to do. Whenever I display my work, I am certain to have an artist’s statement posted. Of course sometimes your work will be seen unaccompanied by any explanation, so it’s important to work in subject matter that is God honoring.
The only time it’s appropriate to make idols is if your going to use them to help people understand how to tear down the idols in their lives. We only have room for one God in our lives. Idols have no place and no power. Keep your priorities straight, honor God and live (and create) to His glory.