Tim and I had the privilege of hearing MAKOTO FUJIMURA at the Phoenix Art Museum this last Good Friday. Though he spoke with giftedness and authority on his craft as an artist, his love and passion for Jesus also exuded from every sentence. He is one who has entered into relationship with His Lord and Savior. He sees the Image of God imprinted in this world and imagines what it would have been if unmarred by the Fall and what it will be when restored on the last day. He calls our imaginations to do the same – to taste, experience and pursue beauty.
Mako recently gave the commencement speech at Biola University, focusing on the painting “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. I’ve transcribed a few rough quotes which I found very thought provoking and challenging. But, I would encourage you to watch the speech in its entirety below.
Vincent painted in which the light has gone out of our church building. Art poses questions. Art probes into our lives as living parables. So the question I ask is this: What do we do if Vincent is right – in a culture where the light has gone out of the church buildings and instead went swirling into nature and into the margins of life? I pose to you today, that you are actually living in this world that Vincent depicted. The church has kept the structure of the truth in society but we have lost the spirit in creating beauty. Instead of just speaking about God within private spheres. We must proclaim him to the very fabric of our callings as teachers, engineers, nurses, artists and writers. We must see our occupations as apart of the glorious reality in which God has already manifested the Spirit’s incorruptible message. Because the heavens declare the glory of God, we must carry the torch of truth, justice and the aroma of beauty outside of the walls of our institutions.
Mako’s call to pursue beauty in every sphere of life reminds me of an old quote I love from Francis Schaeffer. He too agreed that the Christian life should embrace both truth AND beauty. Beauty to the praise of God.
The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life—they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself. Christ is the Lord of our whole life and the Christian life should produce not only truth—flaming truth—but also beauty. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity. In fact, it is part of the image of God to be creative or to have creativity.
Find more of the art of Makoto Fujimura on Artsy here.