Right now I am reading through a book entitled: “For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a vision for the Arts” and I came across something I wanted to share with you! First a little context from Genesis 2:4-15:
4This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth[b] and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams[c] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— 7 the LORD God formed the man[d] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin[e] and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.[f]14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
And now for a little context for the quote I’m going to share with you. The author was just talking about the incident where Eve took the fruit from the tree after having been enticed to do so.
And here is where human beings try to make something of the world that the world simply cannot yield. Here is where culture oversteps its boundaries. The man and the woman try to use the world for something more than it could ever be-to replace relationship with God, relationship with the only true source of wisdom, with a created thing. It is not enough for the world to be beautiful and good-we want it to be self-sufficient. We want to be self-sufficient within it. No more waiting for the Lord God to walk in the garden in the cool of the day, no more lengthy process of maturation and education in the way of wisdom. The man and the woman take and eat, and set in motion the process by which everything that God had originally given as a gift, a sign of relationship and dependence, will be twisted into a right, something grasped from a world presumed to be threatened and threatening, something that insulates us from needing relationship or dependence.
Here is why I wanted to share this today, because we all do this. We all look for things in this world that can replace a real relationship with God. Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, rather, I am including myself in this.
Faith is hard. It’s hard to constantly be believing and building a relationship with a God who cannot be seen. So what do we do? We find things that at first connect us with God or even just give us an experience that is greater than ourselves, but in the end they become a god in and of themselves. We don’t want to wait on the Lord, we get impatient. We don’t want to do the hard work of maturation, we get impatient. We don’t want to be dependent on anyone but ourselves, we get impatient.
In our impatience we make something of nothing. The significance of the Garden of Eden is that it was a place for Adam and Eve to literally walk with God. It also met the practical need of a place live and food to eat, it was also pleasing to the eye – it was creative. But it was never meant to be a replacement for the thing it was created for. It was a means to communion with God. It was not God. But the minute Eve disobeyed and Adam followed suit, the thing that was created to bring connection took precedence over God.
While we may never know the full intent of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we do know that it represents trust. We need to trust the God who created us to know what is best for us. Perhaps he created the tree so that we would still have to have faith and trust in him. Regardless, we now have a much larger responsibility for faith.
My whole point is this, we must be very careful that the things that are designed to connect us with God (Music, Art, etc.) don’t become god. They are only a means to connect us with God and never to replace God himself.
As we continue to move forward in our Worship Arts Ministry, we must be creative for God made us that way. But, we can never be so tied to a certain creative form of worship that we can’t move on. We must be pursuing a real relationship with our creator, not a shallow reflection of something so much greater.