Joining God as co-creators

We’re not fully who God created us to be unless we exercise creativity.

By Marv Knox

Creativity is older than dirt. Literally. Just look it up. The first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created ... .” According to Scripture, creativity started eight verses before the arrival of dirt, which God created by saying, “... and let dry ground appear.”

Out of nothing — before time, space and substance — God created the universe. The first cause, the prime movement, the initial spark, the Big Bang or whatever you choose to call it, God created. If you believe in God, then you agree God’s creativity launched all that is. That’s equally true if you think the world began 13.8 billion or 6,018 years ago. “In the beginning, God created ... .”

Human beings intuitively appreciate, even adore, creativity. We’re drawn to the unique, the original, the splendid. We pay hard-earned money and set aside valuable time to study paintings, absorb music, enter into novels, imagine the possible in dance, lose ourselves in movies and sometimes even expand our minds through poetry. As I write this essay, my laptop computer (an inspired creation if ever there was one) is playing classical music, currently Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” It moves me, compels me to be ... well, creative.

We also appreciate people we call creative, don’t we? Some of them appear quickly in our imaginations — artists who create the paintings, music, novels, dance, movies and poetry we crave. We also express gratitude to the creative people who imagine and implement the infrastructure of our existence. For example, the people who invented and built the computer/phone you carry in your pocket. Or the scientists who developed vaccines to keep children well and the antibiotics to stave off disease and death. Also the diplomats who imagine peace and talk the world toward it.

If we believe God is the source of creativity and people are made in God’s image, then we affirm individual creativity is God-likeness. Too often, however, we overlook or deny personal creativity. We project creativity onto the geniuses — artists and musicians, scientists and tech gurus, novelists and inventors. But we miss it in ourselves and our friends and family. You know, “ordinary” people.

If you see yourself and folks around you that way, you’re selling short. God infused creativity into the divine image. We carry it. It’s how we make the world better than we found it. And we’re not fully who God created us to be unless we exercise creativity.

Creativity transcends and transforms our lives. Every parent who brought a baby into the world created life. Parents, grandparents and teachers created ideas and values that nurtured that life. If you extend friendship, you create a relationship. Acts of kindness and mercy create hope. Business owners create jobs. Workers may think they toil in “just a job,” but they’re creating goods and/or services that shape others’ lives. A chef can create a delicious and artful meal, but a peanut-butter sandwich is a thing of beauty.

Many Christians work for a paycheck, but their tithe fuels ministry in Jesus’ name. In my community — which is far from unique — a multitude of neighbors spend hours in their yards, nurturing plants to bloom, trees to grow, grass to conform. Their creativity lifts the spirits of folks who drive our streets and walk our sidewalks. Come Sunday, Christians the world over will create worship as we sing, pray, read Scripture, and speak or listen to challenging words.

That last part is the key to creativity. When we offer all we do — raising children, making friends, toiling in jobs, enjoying nature, worshipping, whatever — as gifts to God in gratitude for our creation, we join God as co-creators. And that sanctifies our efforts, whether they result in a clean house, a beautiful painting, 374 widgets, a new friend or “the next big thing.” Our creativity reflects and praises God.

This article originally appeared in Common Call, the magazine of the Baptist Standard.

OPINION: Views expressed in ABPnews/Herald columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.