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The Oscars And The Imago Dei

Confession: it was only a few years ago I realized The Oscars and The Academy Awards were one in the same. In fact, 2013 was the first year I actually watched The Oscars. Growing up, it just wasn’t a thing for us. We weren’t really into the pop culture scene; I could probably count on one hand (maybe two) the number of movies I went to in theatres before I left for college.

The Church and Christian subculture has a weird way of being unappreciative of, and even hostile toward the arts. It’s okay to not be into the movie scene, and I certainly don’t advocate seeing every movie ever made (case in point: Fifty Shades of Grey). But we have a weird complex going on about the arts, entertainment, and talent. We don’t talk about movies—unless it’s Disney animation or anything from Kirk Cameron—or the Oscars, or Katy Perry’s weird Superbowl sharks. (Gasp! You watched the half-time show?!) It’s like these things don’t even exist.

Let’s be honest: we aren’t we good at appreciating the God-given talent in the entertainment industry.

That’s right, I said it. God-given talent.

Take, for example, Tom Hanks. He is super talented, and, by far, my favorite actor. He can play an autistic man who finds himself in every historical event ever (Forrest Gump), a “sad, strange little man” (Toy Story), a witty and romantic mastermind (You’ve Got Mail) and a guy who actually survives beings stranded on a desert island for four years with just a volleyball and ice skates (Castaway). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Why is he so talented? Because He’s made in the image of God.

And God is creative.

Therefore, we (humans) are creative. Including Tom Hanks. And the rest of Hollywood. All made in the image of God.

And the Oscar Goes To…God 

God could have just given us everything we need to survive on the earth in some sort of robotic way. Oxygen, water, light—you know, the basics. We could survive with just that. But He chose to exercise His creativity to add beauty—to add art—to our existence: flowers, sunrises, oceans, waterfalls, forests, mountains, and so on. Creation is God’s art. Creativity is part of who God is. It’s in His DNA, and it’s in our DNA because every single human being was crafted as a tribute to God.

So let’s get this straight: God and the arts are not diabolically opposed.

But for whatever reason, The Church deems the arts as an abomination. It opposes the arts because they break the rules. They go too far. They show too much skin. They say too many bad words. They promote worldly themes. They laugh at sin. They make fun of God. And we can’t handle it. We see it as an abhorrence, an enemy to the Church, to God’s Word, and even to God Himself.

But that’s not entirely true.

Not every aspect of the arts glorifies God. I get that. Much of the material that comes out of Hollywood is the opposite of wholesome, healthy, and God-glorifying. But it doesn’t negate the fact that the wildly talented people in the entertainment industry are bringing glory to God—whether or not they intend to—by employing their God-given gifts.

Oh, and do we really expect them to operate in the Judeo-Christian biblical worldview? Of course they go too far, say bad words, and promote worldly themes. That’s all many artists have ever known. We see it as a corruption of God’s good work, and much of it is. But to them, they’re out there killing it, using their (God-given) talent to make people laugh, think, question cultural norms, and in effect, change the world. (And win Oscars!)

Skills Win Oscars, Not Spiritual Gifts

Have we made talent a spiritual gift instead of a human gift? We’ve crafted the myth that one’s talent isn’t worthy of being celebrated unless that person is a Christian. We cheer for Kirk Cameron, and Patricia Heaton, and Lecrae—and we certainly should—but shun and reject Jimmy FallonSandra Bullock, and Eminem.

Here’s the thing, though. Kirk Cameron was a gifted actor before he became a Christian. And it’s not like once Lecrae met Jesus he suddenly started rhyming, like some kind of marketable Holy Spirit baptism. They were always talented people because they were made in our creative God’s image, and He gave them a dose of His amazingly huge creative gene.

So this Sunday, watch The Oscars. Celebrate the image of God that has been partly manifested on the silver screen. Cheer for the talent that’s earning the Oscar—whether or not it’s the talent of a Christian. Appreciate the arts. Love God’s image and the people made in it.

Because when we appreciate the arts, we appreciate God.

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