What follows is an apologetic I wrote in 2002 for why Christian churches should hold creativity as a core value:
“In the beginning, God created . . .” These words open the text of the Bible and introduce us to God’s epic adventure with humanity. In just a few short pages we learn that His vast and fertile imagination is the source of everything in our universe: sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, elements, plants, animals, people, planets, stars, gravity, space, time – everything.
Everything – including people. People, who not long after arriving on the scene, began to wreak havoc on the creative work of their creator. The damage wasn’t just confined to God’s creation, but extended to God’s own heart, leading him to regret ever having made men and women. He could have destroyed it all at that point. Instead, he set in motion a work of creativity that continues to this day.
God began re-creating everything, unraveling the knot created by humanity’s rebellion and replacing chaos with order and purpose. It’s like a season of “This Old House” on a cosmic scale. Rather than restoring the existing structure, with it’s crooked foundation and termite-eaten frame, it would have been cheaper and easier for God to bulldoze humanity and start all over.
But God has never been one to take the cheap and easy route. Instead of sending the wrecking-ball, God sent Jesus. Jesus Christ did not take the path of least resistance, but resisted all the things to which we yield: selfishness, pride, lust, and every other sort of evil temptation. Instead of receiving the just reward for living an entirely pure life, he received an unjust death by crucifixion.
Like all the others who had been crucified, Jesus was left nailed to the cross until he was dead. Then they took him down and laid him to rest. Unlike all the others, however, Jesus didn’t stay dead. This distinction sets Jesus apart from everyone else. It was God’s ultimate act of re-creation. Jesus was given a new kind of body and was living a new kind of life. The most incredible part is that God promises to do the same thing for us.
So what does all that have to do with creativity? First, God himself is the source of all creativity and the model for living a life of creativity. His creativity is so powerful that it created everything in existence out of nothing. His creativity is so deep that our capacity to ruin can never outrun His capacity to restore.
All of that is too fantastic to comprehend entirely, but it is only the beginning of the story. Even more incomprehensible is the promise that this God, the infinite fount of all creativity, will take up residence within us and re-create us from within. The same power that created everything from nothing, the same power that made a live Jesus out of a dead one, is promised to us!
What are the practical implications of this reality? For a start, the words “boring” and “Christian” ought to be mutually exclusive. Because of the spirit of the Creator living within us, we ought to be the most creative people on the planet. The most compelling films, the most exciting music, the most dramatic theater, the most inspiring poetry, the most enthralling fiction, the most profound mathematics, the most astounding engineering, the most important science, the most insightful psychology, the most productive business, the most just government – all this and more should be pouring out of God and gushing out of the church into the world.
Instead, creativity seems to slowly seep in through the foundation or creep under the door or dribble in through a tiny hole in the roof from the outside. Instead of leading our culture in creativity of every sort, we usually find ourselves being led by the culture, always trying to catch up from 20 years behind. What has happened?
It could be one of a thousand things. In the end, it all boils down to this: God is looking for people who will live as conduits of Her creativity in the world. She longs for followers who are more concerned with what She wants to do through them than what She is doing/did with some other person at some other place in some other time. She wants people who are looking for involvement in Her creative work in the right-here right-now of their lives instead of holding on to the traditions of yesterday and the day before.
Exodus 35:30 through 36:1 reads:
“…the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as a craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers – all of them master craftsmen and designers. So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given a skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”
It is my prayer that God would do the same thing in us: fill us with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts. And that so filled, God’s creativity would overflow into our world with innovation, beauty, justice, and glory, manifesting new life in our hearts, minds, and bodies.