Build a Better Beautiful

 
 
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After four centuries of slavery in a pagan kingdom governed by a historically hard-hearted king, the children of Jacob were free—just as the LORD told Abraham they would be, exactly when He said they would be, under the trees of Mamre so long ago.[1] Their departure was no small incident or slight operation; it was the grandest revelation of the saving arm of Jehovah the world had—has—ever seen, rivaled only by the last deliverance still yet to come.[2] It did not come without contention, and it was not without controversy; few things regarding Israel ever are.[3]

Yet when these labor slaves left, they did not do so with empty pockets. The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt saw not only the workforce of the Egyptian kingdom go beyond Pharaoh’s borders, but it also witnessed the wealth of Egypt cross the Red Sea. In the Passover, Israel plundered Egypt.[4] God alone holds the power to give wealth,[5] and in a moment, He passed the wealth of a world power who hated Him to the hands of a lowly tribal nation covenantally yoked to Him.

God’s people had just entered a new and unique season of fellowship with their Husband,[6] and He intended to dwell with them in a new and unique way. So they needed a meeting point that needed to be, even in the desert, even in the generation-long Exodus, beautiful. He was all-in with His people; the “greatest commandment” is simply to be all-in in response—to pull a Mary in Bethany and bust everything you have on the ground to let it spill out and make Jesus smell good.[7]

“Speak to the people,” said the LORD to Moses. “From every man whose heart moves him, take up a contribution for Me—because I love cheerful giving and don’t want begrudging gifts—so that you have what you need to build the blueprint I’m about to give you.[8] Then go get the artists I’ve specifically and deliberately gifted with creativity and craftsmanship, and get them to build it.[9] It’s going to be beautiful.

It needed to be. The LORD Himself is beauty, we bear His image, and any communion between the finite and the Infinite should be cherished, even for those alive when the veil was still intact.[10]

There are yet still men and women specifically and deliberately gifted with creativity and craftsmanship, born in the aftermath of Steve Jobs’ innovative genius putting studios in all our homes and pockets. It is an incredible time for creatives to be alive. On the other hand, our challenge is to speak into the world without adding to the white noise of all channels presently “set to eleven.” Yet for those of us who love the name of Jesus and want to exalt Him creatively, to build something beautiful for Him with our time and crafts and lives, we have our own narrow road to walk: the thin line between fundamentalism and feelings.

When I first picked up a guitar, I knew I wanted to worship Jesus with it. I’ve also never been one to write songs that repeat the word “Jesus” seventeen and a half times in the chorus (fortunately, the “song of all songs”[11] doesn’t either). I love Jesus and He is the Truth[12] and I therefore love good doctrine, but I am not a fundamentalist. At the time, some people refused to acknowledge any of these kinds of songs could honor Jesus. There’s still a similar case to be made for the craft of filmmaking; I’m not gripped or moved by “family-friendly” films that tidy up before the credits roll with prettier endings than a Hallmark Christmas special. I don’t make them, and fifteen years ago people would’ve wondered why. These things have their place, but when I was in high school, these conversations were stalling the Church’s creativity (and we have been succinctly outpaced by everyone else as a consequence). They’re not anymore (you’re welcome, whatever-we-call-you-kids-younger-than-us-millennials-who-are-better-at-media-and-branding-than-we’ll-ever-be-but-we-carved-this-thing-out-for-you-please-show-respect-to-your-elders-thanks).

On the other side of this thin line is a second ditch: feelings. Emotions are good and holy gifts from God carved out in us because we’re made in His image, but let’s be really clear: emotions are not the Holy Spirit. Nothing got spared in the “mighty disaster theologians call ‘the Fall,’”[13] and even our feelings must undergo painful sanctification. Creatives (songwriters in particular) have to steward the platforms our crafts stand on because these platforms matter. Truly, “it matters not who writes your laws—what matters is who writes your songs.”[14] Melodies marinate ideas in our guts—it matters that they marinate true things.[15] (Note: Do not write a chorus about your own confusion and bring people into it with you. Keep wrestling and keep writing until the Truth brings you out of your confusion, and get that story stuck in my head.)

The tectonic plates under the media industries violently shifted around the time we were stocking cans and water jugs in case our computers couldn’t handle a year ending with “00” (around the time I got my first guitar). Nothing has been the same since. Anyone seeking the kind of saturated bank accounts featured in MTV Cribs got a rude awakening: streaming arrived (although in fairness, at first it was just brazen stealing), and the money just isn’t there anymore. It is the biggest favor mainstream platforms have ever done for the Body of Jesus. We have to ask ourselves why we create, why we produce, and what we’re trying to say. Are there examples of the people of God prioritizing profit over the prophetic word? Sure. Do we have to risk it? Nope.

New infrastructure has been installed, and it is almost embarrassing that we weren’t the ones to build it. The early millennium didn’t give us flying cars like we thought it might, but it did give us technology the Church needs to use and use well. Film and music gear is more accessible than it’s ever been. Creative software formerly out of any layman’s budgetary reach is now available in cloud suite subscription services. Cameras are smaller and cheaper and sharper than they’ve ever been. Companies are making music hardware that can fit a nimble studio into a backpack. Publishing is literally the most accessible it’s ever been since the advent of the printing press.

Much can be said about this, but my purpose in this article is to make this point: God has specifically and deliberately knit men and women with creative craftsmanship to build something beautiful to bring people into conscious, experiential revelation of life-saving, life-giving Truth. Call me crazy, but it seems like there are more of us alive today than there has been in a long time—with access to more gear and resource and platform than we’ve ever had before.

Maybe He’s up to something.

Plunder Egypt (meaning, take full and shameless advantage of the training and resources available). Get a prayer life. Let God give you blueprints. Build a better beautiful, and invite His people into the experience.



 

We are receiving applications for mid-term media apprenticeships and long-term media team members.

if you are a Christ-exalting creative keen to build something beautiful for the long haul, we want to hear from you.


 
 
 
 

Stephanie Quick serves as a lead writer and producer of the Covenant and Controversy film series and resource library, and Editor In Chief of FAI Publishing and Pilgrim Media. She lives in the Muslim world and can be reached for queries and bookings at stephanie@stephaniequick.org. Follow her on TwitterInstagram, or sign up to receive her ministry updates.


 












[1] Genesis 15:13-14; Exodus 12:40-41
[2] Jeremiah 16:14-15; 23:5-8; Micah 7:15
[3] Visit covenantandcontroversy.com for more information
[4] Exodus 12:33-36
[5] Deuteronomy 8:18 
[6] Isaiah 54:5
[7] Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:1-8
[8] See Exodus 25:1-9; 2 Corinthians 9:7
[9] See Exodus 31:1-11
[10] 2 Chronicles 3:14; Matthew 27:51
[11] Song of Solomon 1:1
[12] John 14:6
[13] Tozer, A.W. (1961). The Knowledge of the Holy. New York:HarperCollins, 9.
[14] It is thought that a semblance of this quote originated with Plato, was later reiterated by Lord Justice Andrew Fletcher of Scotland (around the time of the Union of the Crown), and at some point John Lennon made a similar quip. All three of these voices were part of cultural pivots in their generation.
[15] Ephesians 5:15-21; Colossians 3:12-17; James 5:13

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