Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A theology of creativity pt 1

A theology of creativity is simply looking at what the Bible has to say about the subject. So began my fascinating study. I found that the Bible is full of creative acts and creative people. Sometimes the references are obvious and sometimes implied. Not only are lots of craftspeople mentioned, but there is a whole creative way of living going on. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The first thing we are told about God, the fifth word in the Bible, is that He created. Does this not tell us that creativity is important? The first thing that God tells us about Himself is that He is the Creator. We only need to look around us at the trees. Look at the abundance and variety. Not only do they have different leaf shapes, but also different barks, different shapes of growth, different fruits, different seeds with a multitude of dispersal methods. God could have made all trees the same. But He didn't, because He is a God who loves to create.

Not much further into the book of Genesis we are told that we are made in God's image - we are creative, too. We cannot create from nothing with just a word, but we can create with everything around us.

Now I know that some people dispute the fact that they are creative, but the Bible says otherwise. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the word 'creative'. Or bad experiences in art class at school. Whatever the reason, to say that you are creative is incorrect. Can you bake a pie? That's creative. Does your garden look lovely? That's a creative gift. Does your house always look well put together, even when you bought everything secondhand from lots of different sources? A flair.

Are you starting to get the picture? Creativity is not just about producing wonderful works of art, or singing, or playing an instrument. We are all creative in different ways. Have you ever watched a child drawing or painting or making a model? They are absorbed in what they are doing, and they are so pleased with what they have made. They experience joy in making things just because they can. My daughter has whole stories that go with her drawings. They are never just a picture, but more like a still in the movie going on in her head. It is only once children start to receive criticism about what they have done that the joy of creativity starts to wane. The intervention of man spoils the way we look at our creativity. When we can create without worrying about what others think, we can begin to commune with God through it and regain the sheer joy that I believe was the way we were made in the first place, reflecting the joy God took in creating the world.

We have now defined creative gifts very broadly as ring any gift that uses hands, imagination, and/or inventiveness to make something come into being. So are these things mentioned in the Bible? Certainly. Throughout the Bible we see people using creative gifts in practical ways, like boat-builders and carpenters; and in more decorative ways, such as the calligraphers and embroiderers. Often the two things are found together. We still see this today when we find cabinetmakers whose furniture is beautifully decorative, rather than just functional. Why? Because the craftsman enjoys his gift.

This is very general, you may say. What about specifics? Well, Joseph was a carpenter, Paul was a tentmaker, Dorcas made clothing, Lydia dyed cloth, Jesus was a storyteller, David was a songwriter. The list goes on. And on. The Bible is littered with creative people using their God-given gifts in His service.

Yes, creative gifts are mentioned in the Bible. They seem to be important to God and so they should be important to us, too. Not something to downplay, but a gift given by God to use in His service and to aid us in drawing closer to Him. So embrace your creativity as an integral part of who you are and who you were made to be.

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