Art and the Church

In this post i’m going to attempt to talk about art and how it relates to the Church. This is quite a strange topic for me since I don’t really know much about art. However, I am able to appreciate the beauty and skill behind it. I’m actually the odd one out in my family in terms of art. My dad, brother, and sisters all studied art/design while I studied engineering. I’m by no means an expert but hopefully I can make some sense in this post.

Recently, I spent some time with some sisters who enjoy art and painting. The one sister has her own art studio at her house, and was showing us her latest paintings. They were beautiful to say the least. Another sister who had started painting about a year ago said that when she started painting, she had the expectation that she’d be able to produce amazing paintings to line her walls and sell later on. She then said that her original enjoyment for painting became less and less as she was working towards this goal. Failing to achieve these goals resulted in her being discouraged. Painting became a labour, which sapped her passion and enjoyment. She then said that she now paints with the intention of enjoying it rather than achieving certain goals.

After she told me this, I realized that this is often exactly how we experience the Church. Originally, our passion and enjoyment of Christ causes us to meet as the Church. However, we soon think we need to achieve certain goals as a Church. We strive and work at accomplishing certain ideals and dreams. Striving to achieve these things often comes at the sacrifice of our enjoyment and passion for Christ. In this way, meeting as the Church can feel like a labour. It can sap our passion very easily. When our dreams and ideals are not met, we will often feel discouraged, which may eventually even cause us to give up on the Church all together. This is why we must resolve to know Christ deeply with and through one another. Christ and Him alone must be our driving passion and goal.

Another thought I had later was on the purpose of art. (There are probably thousands of different dissertations on this topic, but I will throw in my 2c.) In my opinion, one purpose of art is to express something through a medium different to that which is being expressed. For example, a painted portrait is expressing a person through a painted medium. With this understanding, if we see the Church as a piece of art, we are clearly an expression of Christ. In a sense, Christ is the artist doing a self portrait. He is the artist creating a masterpiece, which will express his character, nature, beauty, love, etc. to the world. His medium for creating this masterpiece is you and me. An individual stroke of the brush is just a line of color, but when many strokes are put together by the artist, they create a beautiful picture, expressing the artists original intention. In the same way, we are each a stroke in Christ’s painting, and together we give him an expression.

The reality is that we often try and paint our own picture. We often try to give Christ an expression which is not His own. We try and convey Him to the world, but the world sees a distorted image. Therefore, we must let Christ be the master painter, working on His masterpiece, so that He can have His expression.

If you have any additional thoughts on “Art and the Church”, please feel free to comment.

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About the author

Nathan Odell Nathan Odell is the author of Joined to Him. You can connect with him on

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Comments

  1. Letshego says:

    WOW! This really paints a picture and gives a fresh perspective on things.

  2. Matt Gadd says:

    Nathan, I particularly like your analogy of the Church as a piece of art. One interesting point for consideration, though, from Republic Book X:

    “But would you call the painter a creator and maker?
    Certainly not.
    Yet if he is not the maker, what is he in relation to the bed?
    I think, he said, that we may fairly designate him as the imitator of that which the others make.”

    Plato (or Socrates. whatever) is talking about the imitative quality of many forms of art, in this case painting. He continues:

    “Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image.”

    I believe Christ’s relationship with the Church is a fundamental truth, and cannot with any reason be considered superficial or light – the way Plato makes painting out to be.

    Nice work brother.

  3. Ann Ritter says:

    Really beautiful but I also think that we are painting it too with him . I am sure of it.
    Lets paint !

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