We expect people to express their gifts, talents, art and worship
Since we are each and all temples of the Holy Spirit, art among us is never merely a matter of “self-expression.”

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-13

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?  Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us!

More thoughts for meditation

Sometimes, modern and postmodern philosophies are applied to our souls without Jesus. We can end up convinced that we are responsible for our own creation, that our interaction with each other gives birth to reality, or that true courage is surfing the forces of evolution. We can end up thinking that if something comes to us from God or from another person, it is somehow not ours, somehow inauthentic. Paul was working with one of the first churches on the same issue of spiritual development. The truth he delivered to them was as difficult for them to hear as it is for people in our era: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Artists can teach us all about the truth Paul delivered by how they reveal themselves in Christ through their art. Art is such a heart-to-heart experience it is one of the most influential activities for creating an environment in which people connect with God or not. If an artist leads us in worship, we can feel it; if what they do is all about them or about their art, we can feel it. If they make art from a heart that is not one with Jesus, we can sense that. So when an artist gives what they have been given by God through their art, they give us a powerful gift.

The key to art being more than “self-expression” is to receive from God and give what we have been given — that requires a change of mind. We have been deluded into thinking what we have is what we have made for ourselves, or made of ourselves. But Paul is reminding us today that we don’t have anything we have not been given. How free it makes us to receive life rather than being responsible to cause it or control it!

Suggestions for action

Pray: Thank you for giving me life. I receive it. Help me not to “boast.” Help me to resist the demand to boast, as if I were responsible for your work.

We praise God for you artists who are reading this! You make our life together rich and create an environment that moves us to be our true selves.

If you don’t think of yourself as an artist, maybe you should think again. Learning to make a good cookie or having a helpful conversation also has a lot of art to it. The practice of expressing the Spirit as part of the cell or congregation is everyone’s basic art.

Plan to express yourself in Christ boldly. Let’s all set one goal, big or small, for how we are going to express our true selves in Jesus in some recognizable way today.

Maybe you should start a new project, or finish one languishing, if you are a skilled person. We will receive it with thanks. If you don’t think you are skilled, talk to the Lord about what God thinks about your worth.

Today is Peter and Paul Day! Honor the practical founders of the Church at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.