Building Understanding

Written By: Aaron Van Cleave

January 3, 2017

Like many people, I played with Lego bricks as a child. Uncommonly, however, I never stopped! Lego has become an artistic hobby and even a means of expressing my faith. For this reason, I find Dr. Parker’s question, “Do you realize that as a Christian you have some talent to use for the Lord?” heavily applicable to my own life. I’ve understood that everyone has different talents since I began to see them manifest in myself and others, but it’s taken time and study to ascertain how to use mine to spread God’s love and His message of salvation.
Four years ago, when I discovered the amazing sculptures of online Lego artists that inspired me to make my own art, I was only beginning to experience the spiritual growth needed to understand the world from a mature Christian perspective. Consequently, I wasn’t initially concerned with the role my faith played in my hobby, and focused solely on honing my skills and having fun. Over time, I accumulated other interests in the same creative vein, and it became obvious that my proclivities lay in math, art, and design. Building with Lego, however, continued to be an integral part of my life; the enjoyment it brought and the success I garnered as an online artist was an immense blessing. I began to consider how I could turn my talent back toward God. Unlike the gifts of music and speech commonly used in worship and instruction, the art of sculpture has a generally unsavory role in Scripture, mostly appearing in the form of idols. Being named after Moses’ brother, who made a giant golden calf for the Israelites to worship, I felt a certain responsibility to avoid committing similar errors!
I started by creating models of the Birth and Resurrection of Jesus to publish on Christmas and Easter. Like many spiritual outreaches, there was no immediate, miraculous result. By then, however, I understood that sometimes it’s enough to plant a seed that may later grow into an opportunity to share the Good News. The biannual nature of this activity, however, left me wondering how I might glorify God more often and without the need for such overtly religious subjects, whose message dulls with repetition. I found an answer in Exodus 31, where God gifts the craftsmen Bezalel and Oholiab with manifold skills and appoints them to construct and decorate the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and their accompanying furnishings. In passages leading up to this chapter, God commands that these objects to be made with “great skill and care” (Exod. 28:15). Dr Parker’s quote smartly summarizes the point of this passage, Paul’s letter about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, and various other relevant chapters that have all deeply shaped my understanding of artistic expression in relation to God. Now, I take inspiration from Him and make whatever I like for the sake of beauty alone. Whenever people ask where I get my ideas, the spiritual seed I plant consists of telling them that it is a gift from God opposed to ascribing it to myself.
All in all, I’ve learned that people like myself who have talents that seem unfit for worship just need to do their best with what God has given them while acknowledging and giving Him credit. Talents, even those as strange or specific as building with Lego, can be used to create beauty in God’s name to the furtherance of His glory. Now, when asked whether I “…have some talent to use for the Lord”, I can happily answer in the affirmative.