September 15, 2008 Ration

James 3:1

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

You may say, “But I am not a teacher, I’m an artist. What does this verse have to do with me?” A teacher is not a teacher because he assumes or is given that title. Anyone who has followers has students. And the one who has students is, by default, a teacher.

Artists have always been informal teachers. Artists have probably always had the most students of any teacher. They do not give homework. Their “lectures/gigs” are a pleasure to attend. The most faithful of students will travel far and wide to attend a class. In fact, the lessons are so enjoyable one doesn’t even consider himself to be submitting to the teaching of a “teacher.”

Be careful artists, you cannot escape being a teacher. Consider, then, what you are teaching through your artistry. “…For you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

This verse does not say, “for you know that we who [call ourselves teachers…],” or “ we who [are employed as teachers…].” No, it says, “we who teach.”

Artists, we teach with every work of art we put on display. We teach our audience, through our artistry, what we run after in life, what we value, what we consider to be true and right. And if we can make the presentation pleasurable enough, the audience will affirm our position, at least in measure. How dangerous this is for us. We have played very loose with such a powerful position. We are not even thinking of ourselves as teachers most of the time, if ever, and yet that is exactly what we are. When judgment comes, be warned, we will be judged with greater strictness.

Now, don’t be crippled, artist, just be faithful! Do not fritter away such an important platform with banal works of artistic mindlessness. We must have teachers. And they must not all be so drab. But we must have teachers of truth! Push for the truth, push for what is lasting with your artistry. Don’t be a commercial that is all flash and says nothing but “remember my name.” When you have the opportunity to say something through your work, say what will pass through the judgment of greater strictness. This will not only keep you from an unwanted judgment, it will work for you a desired reward.

I would not blow over this “judged with greater strictness” clause. It makes me pause and consider right now my artistic pursuits, as I will have to give account for all that my works say. In heaven, presentation will not trump content, as it so easily does here on earth.

Artists, be encouraged to take seriously your artistry, your themes, your conclusions, your position, and every one of your students whether you know their names or not. You are their teacher and will be graded as such. Be a teacher then that passes through the toughest of scrutinies and enjoy the rewards of faithfulness in your artistic charge.

Jason Harms


© 2008 The Gaius Project