Pastor Jeremy Siebert and his family
I had the unique opportunity to interview my Pastor, Jeremy Siebert of Sandy Assembly of God Church, and ask him some questions about art and faith. I was impressed by the in-depth, thought provoking answers of his responses.
What role did artists play in the Old and New Testaments? (This could include architecture, storytelling, music, dance etc.)
Artists and the arts have played a large role in God’s redemptive story and have a prominent place in the Scripture. When Israel was led out of Egypt, God instructed them to build a tabernacle. God gave very specific details on how the tabernacle should look. We read in Exodus 36:1-2
“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.
From this passage we discover that God had skilled these craftsmen and we see them use their skill for the work of the Lord.
King David was a prolific song writer. In fact 73 of the psalms have him listed as the author. Many of the psalms say in the superscription, “To the choirmaster…”
When we come to the gospels in the New Testament we see what a master communicator Jesus was. We get to read what He said to the crowds and to His disciples as He taught them. He often used parables when teaching. It has been said that the parables were earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. You can imagine how easily the stories could be remembered and retaught. They were very memorable! But the parables served another purpose as well. The parables served in a way as a coded message, so that those with hard hearts couldn’t understand what was being said, while those with discerning hearts (followers of Christ), could learn the meaning.
What is the role of the Christian artist in the Church today?
The Christian artist has a very important role in the church today. Just as artists were critical to what God did in the past, they are critical to what God is doing in the present, and what He will do in the future. In Ephesians 2:10 we read,
10 For we are his workmanship,created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Verses 8 and 9 remind us that we are saved by grace through faith. We are not saved as a result of works, so that no man can boast. Then we come to verse 10 and are reminded that while good works don’t save us, God has prepared good works for the saved person to walk in. He has given His people various talents, treasure, and time and those are meant to be used for the glory of God.
As humans we are created in the image of God. One way we reflect Him as Creator is through art. When an artist writes a song, draws a picture, or designs a house for God’s glory, they are demonstrating the fact that they have a creative God that has given them a creative mind.
Explain how the arts play a role in your church? This could include painting, drawing, photography, writing, poetry, storytelling, music, dance, drama, film, graphic design, architecture etc.
We have some great artists in the church. At Easter one year, we displayed artwork from one of the ladies in the church that paints so well. We had a young lady in the congregation do her entire Senior project on Christian themes a few years back and we still have one of her paintings hanging in the youth hall. One year a man in our congregation wrote a tremendous poem about what Jesus did for us in His substitutionary death. I asked him for permission to read his poem and read it to the congregation. I believe the poem had an even greater impact as a result of it coming from one of our own members.
We have made various creative video clips throughout the years.
We sing a few songs during worship that have been written by members of our congregation.
We utilize drama each year for our vacation Bible school.
What advice would you give a Christian artist to encourage them to keep a healthy perspective on their art and not let it become an idol?
That is a great question. Of course any Christian artist’s intention would be to do things for God’s glory, but it can be easy to loose perspective. Often the praise goes to the artist instead of to God who gave the artist the ability. That praise can infect their head and heart if they are not careful. One thing I would encourage a Christian artist to do is to spend time in prayer as they are working on their project, specifically praying for their project. Praying for success and wisdom and also for humility. I would encourage any artist to deflect the praise away from self and to God. Reading Scripture, praying, checking their heart on a regular basis, are all important in the process of guarding against idolatry. For some it may even mean a willingness to step away from a project for an extended period of prayer, if the focus has begun to turn away from God and to art itself. A friend or family member can help give an outside perspective to the artist if the artist is willing to ask.
What do you foresee is the role of the Christian arts in the future?
I believe that God has a great plan in store for the Christian arts. With the moral decline in our culture much of the art of the world is crude, and even blasphemous. Because much of the world’s art is dark, the Christians art has the ability to shine all the brighter for the glory of God.
Overall, this interview opened my eyes to the importance of art in the church and the Christian artist’s role in the world. It was interesting to learn how arts have played a powerful role in the old and new testaments. Christian art is meant to stand out and bring a message of hope to the world. One of the valuable lessons I learned from this interview is the importance of prayer in the art-making process. Making prayer a priority when I am working on projects from start to finish can help me keep my focus on what is really important and can keep me humble and thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me. I appreciate my pastor taking the time to let me interview him and I enjoyed hearing his knowledgeable responses about the role of art in the Bible and in the Church today.
Siebert, Jeremy. Personal interview. 11 Nov. 2013.