Excellence and the Image of God

Recently I watched an old movie about Beethoven and found myself intrigued by the notion of God-given talent. How can it be that extraordinary genius can and often is at home in someone with no obvious commitment or connection to God? As Salieri said in the movie Amadeus, How can this be? How can music so lovely (like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, or Mozart’s Piano Sonatas) not be directly inspired by God Himself?

Of course it’s true that any Hollywood rendition of a person’s life isn’t likely to be 100% accurate, especially of someone from so long ago. Certainly Hollywood is known to sensationalize for the sake of pleasing an audience. There are varying accounts of Beethoven’s life, and who his Immortal Beloved might have been. But the fact is we don’t have much evidence to suggest Beethoven was especially tuned in to God or relied upon Him to nourish his talent.

I’ve met some extraordinarily talented writers in the past 20+ years I’ve been involved in the publishing world. While a great many of them are wonderful people (particularly in the Christian field) I’ve also met the occasional egotistical snob (even in the Christian field). Despite obvious personal shortcomings, they’ve created some wonderful stories and characters.

The same is probably true of painters and sculptors and other geniuses. Someone can be blessed with extraordinary talent but have no sense whatsoever of where that talent came from. Yet God blesses whom He blesses—for their sake? Perhaps for all our sakes.

Could such artistic talent be an evolutionary accident? Do atheist geniuses really believe we all came from pond scum? I don’t see how that can be true, otherwise perhaps animals all over the planet would have evolved at least a little bit in the artistic realm to produce a masterpiece or two, don’t you think?

It’s my firm belief that such talent, whether or not a person realizes or acknowledges it, exists because we’re all made in the image of the same artistic God. One who cannot help but rejoice in excellence, for the pure sake of art.

In this area we all share some little bit of God whether we acknowledge Him or not. Granted, some have been given or have been able to develop more talent than others, but all of us have some capacity to create and an innate ability to recognize beauty. We can’t help it; it’s part of the DNA God poured into us.

This week, as I pick up an old classic (I’m reading Wuthering Heights with my Book Club) I think I’ll be reminded of God’s blessing. And I’ll rejoice in it.

How about you? When was the last time some sort of art stole your breath away? Next time that happens . . . why not offer up a praise to the creative God of the Universe!

About Maureen Lang

Author of a dozen novels, Maureen Lang has won the Selah Award, a Holt Medallion, FHL's Reader's Choice Award, and been a finalist in such contests as the Christy, the Rita, the Carol, Book Buyer's Best, and others. Before publication she was the recipient of a Golden Heart and a Genesis (then called the Noble Theme). She resides with her husband and kids in the Chicago area. Titles by Maureen Lang All In Good Time Bees In The Butterfly Garden Springtime Of The Spirit Whisper On The Wind Look To The East My Sister Dilly On Sparrow Hill The Oak Leaves Remember Me Pieces Of Silver
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2 Responses to Excellence and the Image of God

  1. Beth Goddard says:

    I’m with you! Our talents and abilities are part of what we’ve inherited from the Creator. I love watching the incredible gifts I see in others, whether they recognize there is a God or not. Beauty is all around us and all good gifts comes from the Father above.

    It makes me sad to watch biographies that portray geniuses from the past as immoral and in many cases, we simply don’t know what their true beliefs were. Often they were Christians and are still portrayed to be a depraved character.


    • Maureen Lang says:

      So true! A movie isn’t marketable unless it contains some sensationalism, I guess.

      I remind myself that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to be saved . . . and hope to see many geniuses in Heaven!


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