As reported by the ‘Greenville In One Accord’ February 2012 Vol 1 – Issue 1
God is revealed in many ways, and He desires to use us in those revelations to the world. Some talents have obvious uses, such as being able to preach or teach. Jared Emerson has been blessed with the gift of art, and he once struggled with understanding how that gift could reach people for the Lord. Sim- ply painting portraits of Jesus or Bible stories seem to be one way to go, but how does that minister?
Jared’s passion for art and the Lord was one day realized when a church asked him to paint a portrait in front of the congregation. A self described shy man, Jared was afraid to go forward with the request. How could he paint in front of all those people? What would he do, and how would he do a performance piece?
Growing up in a Christian home, his mother always encouraged him to do something with his art that would honor and glorify God. Jared had no particular influences when it came to art, and he even admits that he doesn’t know that much about art history. He credits his 7th grade teacher with some basic lessons in shading, but art was not his first passion.
Jared’s dream was to be a basketball player, but after injuring his leg during Bible college in New York, his dream seemed to be over. He relocated to Florida after briefly living in North Carolina and tried to pursue some kind of career in art. Living as a true starving artist, Jared found himself worried about where his next meal would even come from. Sometime after reinjuring his leg, he found himself starving and without insurance to help with the needed surgery for his leg.
Hope came from a “Good Samaritan” couple that he knew from Powdersville, and God’s providence was laying out the path for Jared’s life. He relocated to the Greenville area, received the necessary surgery with assistance, and began to continue his art career.
The question remained as to how he would serve the Lord with his work. Jared spent time doing a range of work from realism to abstract, charcoal to oils, and everything in between. After his pastor approached him about doing a piece at church, things finally clicked. God could be revealed in his art. Painting could be a worship experience for himself and for the audience.
This “visual worship” was a new adventure for Jared. Where portraits can usually take weeks with their details, this project was going to have to be done quickly. It was also going to have to be done on a very large scale. With a large custom canvas, Jared decided to use acrylic paint for it’s fast drying ability. He also decided to paint mostly with his hands. The quick and deliberate application of the paint brought lines and shapes together to form our Lord with a crown of thorns.
An important part of the creation was the music supporting the worship. Jared studied the songs that were to be performed, and he studied the subject matter that he was going to paint. This experience was not about the artist or the work. It was a moment of worship, where the audience was able to share the spirit of the performance. God was being honored in song and art. The portrait of Jesus was being transformed before their eyes.
After this initial experience, it was clear that God had a purpose with this new direction. The people received the performance with an open heart, Jared was able to share his talent in worship, and God was being honored. As the usual portraits and commis- sioned works proceeded, Jared found himself being asked to perform more and more “visual worship” experiences. He thought it would be nice to do at least one a month, but God had other plans.
That once a month desire has multiplied to several a month. With a willing spirit, Jared has gone forward with the performance pieces at any place he can. He doesn’t even seek these opportunities, but churches and events approach him. To allow everyone to have the opportunity to experience these works, Jared goes forward with faith in regards to expenses. He wants the big churches and small churches to be able to experience the same worship if desired, and most performances generally cover the costs of the materials.
Jared is a life to be molded. He is willing to go where God has him go, and he wants to share it with the world. The Lord has blessed us all with many talents. For some it may be art, some music, and even others teaching. God has a purpose for all His children, and He wants to be revealed through us. We must share our talents with the world. When used for God, it becomes part of the great commission.