Gender & Identity, Life

“Doing it for Jesus” doesn’t mean your work gets a free pass

If He is who you are doing it for, why are you so against making it good?

In a past article, I had mentioned that I am interning at a non-profit Christian missions organization this summer. One of my favorite things about working there is seeing the art in their art gallery. As various artists display their work on First Fridays in Richmond, Virginia’s art district, seeing the intersection of faith and art is beautiful to see. Whether people identify as Christian or non-Christian, people can identify with the art that they’re seeing, because it’s not jarring or in their face.

And, most importantly, the art work is GOOD. In fact, it’s GREAT! It’s not blobs on a canvas that were “led by the Holy Spirit.”

Have you ever noticed how much Christian movies suck? Not some movies with Christian themes like Les Misérables or Bruce Almighty. I’m talking about the movies that are owned by Christian filming companies that have bad names like “Pureflix” that make films with too cheesy of themes that portray non-Christians in a stereotypical bad light (ahem, God’s Not Dead, ahem).

That tends to play a role in other forms of Christian art too. Music, paintings, articles, etc.

As a writer who identifies as Christian, I’ve gotten annoyed with the people in Christian circles who are okay with singing poorly in front of people in a public worship band, write crappy children’s plays with too vague of a theme around how “God’s love saves all,” or who decide to be ill prepared in their art work in general because of the excuse of the only person’s opinion that should matter: Jesus.

“I did it for Jesus, it doesn’t matter what you think.”

You know what, you’re right. It totally doesn’t matter what I think of your work and content. Art is subjective, after all. However, for you to purposefully not put enough effort into your craft, isn’t that actually kind of insulting to the divine being you say you want to please?

If He is who you are doing it for, why are you so against making it good?

Moreover, what’s going to make the people here on Earth appreciate what you’re doing if it’s not well done. Especially if you KNOW it’s not well done.

I did not think I would be writing a lot of content about Christianity for The Tempest and I am so grateful that I am. I don’t make it my aim to just write about how great the Lord is without any depth or direction. I make it my aim to write about how the Lord has impacted my life through my hyphenated identities, my work, my struggles.

The reason why people love Les Misérables so much as a book and a musical is that it’s not just about a prisoner who gave his life to Jesus. The story would get boring all too quickly. It’s about this imperfect human doing the best he can to create positive change in France, and then raise an abandoned daughter on his own, while also bearing the social burden of being an ex-con, having to watch everywhere he goes, all because his soul belongs to God now.

So, to my dear Christian artists, and this can go to all artist regardless of religious or nonreligious identification, it’s okay to work hard at your craft. And to share your craft with others, you are required to make it good if you’re truly “doing it for Jesus.” If you’re by yourself, that’s a different story, because that’s where your art can grow. However, if you aim on bringing your art to the public, don’t you dare make something as cheesy as War Room because you didn’t put enough effort into it.

  • Maya Williams

    Maya Williams has her Bachelor’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s in English from East Carolina University. She also has her Master’s in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social justice from the University of New England. She has published articles and poems on sites such as The Tempest, INTER, Black Girl Nerds, Multiracial Media, GlitterMOB, and Soft Cartel. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry, facilitating writing workshops for youth, and watching movies/musicals.