Who’s your favorite poet? Do you even have a favorite poet? Even before COVID, when did you last attend a concert or visit an art museum? When did you last draw a picture, or photograph something beautiful, or write a song, or cook a fancy dinner, or just make something?
Enjoying, engaging in, reflecting on, and creating art is a profoundly divine activity. God is, as theologian T. M. Moore puts it, “the Great Artist.” His universe was made with “such wonder, diversity, order, color, sound, dimension, scope and harmony that He could confidently pronounce Himself pleased with what He had made.”
Made in His image, humans are also creators. Artistic creativity is, in fact, an integral and distinguishing capability of being human. The works of our imaginations and of our hands have the potential to reflect the very nature, purpose, and character of God in the world.
Not only that, but as the folks at Engage Art explain, art is one way that Christians can cultivate a culture of community:
“All of the individual artworks being made by filmmakers, musicians, potters, and all the rest; all the museum collections and comic books; all the dance crazes, songs, poems, etc.—they all get mashed together to create the culture we all get to live in.”
For the last few years, Engage Art has sought to cultivate, celebrate, and reward artistic creativity by inviting artists of all ages and backgrounds to submit original music, short films, drawings, paintings, photographs, and more. Winners of the Engage Art contest in each category receive cash prizes and have their works displayed with the performing and visual arts at EngageArt.org. (Submissions to the contest are made through the Engage Art app, which can be found on the website or at the Apple and Android app stores.)
The contest is itself an artistic creation of longtime art appreciators and philanthropists Bill and Linda Bantz. They have structured this contest not only to encourage human creativity, but to increase engagement with Scripture. The whole approach reflects an important belief – that a new generation of artists can find inspiration in the Bible’s rich and accurate description of reality, just as so many great artists have throughout history.
The theme of this year’s contest, open as of April 15th, is based on Ephesians 6:10-20, which is often called the “Spiritual Battle” passage. Thus, submissions are encouraged which “discuss the broad and evergreen theme of good vs. evil, as well as the idea that unseen forces have an impact on our world.” As Paul explains in that passage, we battle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
All the information and requirements for submitting a work for the 2021 Engage Art contest can be found at the website EnageArt.org. There’s also a gallery of past contest entries, including paintings, illustrations, sculptures, films, and music videos.
Years ago, Chuck Colson said, “For the Christian, the arts are an important way to understand God and His creation. In a post-Christian culture, those who blend artistic gifts with Christian faith can help lead us back to a biblical worldview. That is why the Church should encourage them.”
I encourage you to share your own artistic talents with the world. Enter the Engage Art contest, and please, tell any Christian creative you know about this opportunity. Details can be found at EngageArt.org.
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