Have you ever gone through your kids’ stuff and came across some awful toy you bought at the dollar store? You take-in its crudeness for a moment, wondering if you should donate it or just trash it. Then you recall how your child played with it during the short car ride from the dollar store back to your house, but he immediately lost interest once you got home. You feel like a fool. As you shove it into a garbage bag with six other dollar store toys, you think, “I wish I had those dollars back, so I could buy something decent.”
There’s a certain type of post on social media that I refer to as a “Dollar Store Post.” For the cost of 2-3 minutes of my time, I can post something dumb to Facebook and get 10-20 reactions and maybe a comment or two. These posts are forgettable and fruitless, which is why I’ll post another one in 48 hours. Then, years later, Facebook will remind me of the post and I will think, “That was dumb. I wish I took the time to write something decent.”
At the start of the year, I started feeling convicted about my half-hearted “works” especially in regards to my writing and other creative projects. Social media deceives us (or maybe just me) into thinking it’s okay to be mediocre. Mediocrity gets clicks and “likes.” Now that I think about it, complete garbage gets clicks and “likes,” too. We see it in journalism: click-bait headlines and useless celebrity gossip. If I can get more “likes” for a slapped together post, why would I bother slaving away over a novel that may only sell fifteen copies (I’m not including the pity copies purchased by family and friends)?
There was a time, not too long ago, where publication was typically reserved for quality works, edited and reviewed by professionals. Now, any (forgive me) bonehead can be published. We have an instant audience with instant reactions to whatever we post. You may not know someone personally that agrees with you, but there’s a stranger two counties over who will give you a “like.” Collect enough of these strangers and you start feeling pretty good about yourself. The ease of publication combined with attention-on-demand has led to an ever growing landfill of useless posts and information.
God Loves Beauty
Lately I’ve had the feeling, a conviction, that if I had to put it into words it would be, “You need to stop adding to the pile” and even further, “You can do better.” I re-listened to an encouraging sermon my pastor gave earlier this year, Blue Pomegranates. God loves beautiful things as evidenced in creation and His command for blue pomegranates in Exodus 28 (something not found in nature). It sounds random, but if you listen to the sermon, it’ll make sense. God loves beauty for the sake of beauty. It brings Him glory.
As our pastor wrote (based on Ephesians 2:10), “…we are created in Christ Jesus for creative, passionate, beautiful good works.” This sermon doesn’t just inspire me to make good things, it makes me want to create beauty in everything I do for His glory.
But then I hit a wall. I could spend all day writing, painting, creating. The energy and desire is there, but often times, when I imagine bringing my “good works” before God or using it as an expression of my faith that others may see, I feel unqualified. Who am I to use my writing or art to glorify God? I didn’t go to art school. Who am I to even write this post? I’ll probably butcher scripture somehow and sound like an idiot.
I’ll just stick to my Dollar Store Facebook posts. That’s what people want to hear from me.
Worship and Trust
But, with every round of sanctification I’ve gone through, God has provided. Last week, He provided a second encouraging sermon, Heart of Worship, which I view as my personal “Part 2” to the Blue Pomegranates sermon. My worship is to trust in Him with the talents He gave me. It’s foolish (and consequently, fruitless) to think that I am my own or that my talents and time are my own. It’s not my glory (or “likes”) I should be seeking. And while I know God will continue to sanctify me until my death, I will never be perfect nor will anything I create be perfect. As my pastor outlined in his sermon, “Worship God with your time, your treasure, your talent, your heart… All your time, treasure, talent is His–worship is trusting Him with it.”
Therein lies my sin. I don’t always trust Him. “Sure, God might be glorified, but what will they say about you?” It’s disturbing when I clear my head of all the noise and see what I am doing: suppressing “good works” out of fear that they (1) might take attention off me (2) might bring negative judgement toward me. I deny God the glory and worship He deserves to protect myself. Lately, the things I have felt inspired to work on have been out of my comfort zone and not what others are used to hearing from me. Topics I can’t hide behind jokes and sarcasm. I have never really been someone who cares all that much about what people think of me, but that’s because I tend to act like a caricature of who I think I ought to be. I am in Christ, therefore I am a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17] so it makes sense that some personality traits that I considered defining or things that I used to enjoy are no longer defining or enjoyable. In some cases, they’re sinful. It’s time to trust God and leave my old ways behind.
When I repent and look to Him–His promises, character, and commands–the idea of creating things to glorify and worship God excites me. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, I am His workmanship; His poema or poem. It’s an honor to be an ambassador for Christ, to reveal His work in my life through what I create. Sure, I may not create something perfect that will appeal to the masses, but I was created through Christ Jesus for “good works” and my life ought to be an example of His good work in me. I may not be able to do better right now, but God has provided the time, resources, and the ability to get better. Yes, editing my own work is torture and discouraging, but it has always led to better work. So I will do it with the reminder that my worship is trusting in Him.
With all this in mind, I will daily put my trust in Him (with constant reminders and risk of failures) to choose to create beautiful works for His glory.
Pray for me.