Creating with the Creator

I have been wrestling with what it means for God to be Creator. According to my reading of Genesis, this does not mean that God creates something out of nothing but that he creates order out of chaos, beauty out of ashes. Creativity, in this sense, is redemption.

So, what does it mean to be created in this God’s likeness? Perhaps, yes perhaps, it means we were born to create. And perhaps being creative is deeper than just being good at art. Maybe creation is about redemption, taking ashes and making something new.

There are two lies I hear often enough that I must consciously refuse them:

First, that we are not all creative. As a Christian, I cannot believe this. We are creative if we are human because we bear the image of the Creator. We are creative if we take pain and create joy, take material loss and create relational abundance. Of course, this is what art does. It takes a mess of paints, canvases, personal stories, and creates beautiful portraits. It takes strings, words, heartbreak or triumph, feelings and fingers, and creates music.

Second, being creative is a waste of time. Perhaps, yes, in a cultural narrative obsessed with efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line, being creative is a waste of time. But that is a narrative in which people are workers for profit and working for men, not co-creators. But if God is the Creator, then we are workers for redemption and working for the Creator. If we are working for money and out of fear, then yes. But if we are working for relationships and redemption, then there is nothing more fruitful to be done with our time than to be creative.

It is no accident that both the Exodus and the promise of return from exile are filled with creation language, reminiscent of Genesis’ account of chaos, power, order, and beauty. There is a deep connection between Creation & Redemption, Creator & Redeemer.

I do not want to live in a story where being creative is a waste of time and where we are not all creative. And if part of God’s task is, in every generation, to subvert dehumanizing narratives, those among us who own their creativity might have a few things to teach the rest of us who only reluctantly, and uneasily, admit the image we bear.

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9 responses to “Creating with the Creator

    • Thank you Jess! According to my reading of Genesis 1, there is already something there, as would have been the case in almost all ANE creation stories. For instance, the Tehom or the Great Deep. Creation in that culture was about creating order out of chaos rather than something out of nothing. That idea of creation, the ex nihilo creation, is much more dominant in the later Greek culture that bears heavily on the New Testament, but not really in Genesis. Does that help? If it’s confusing, might I shamelessly recommend my book with Peter Enns that I linked to in the post? It articulates my position well. Thanks again for the encouragement!

      • Ah thank you! Your book is on my list to read 🙂 also, in a way, I suppose it really doesn’t make sense for God to create something out of nothing, because everything comes out of him, and he is certainly a Something.

        P.S. the very last sentence in your post is my favorite

      • Oh one more thing, you might like the book “walking on water” by madeleine l’engle, in which she discusses art and imagination and creativity. And you are welcome for the encouragement, for it was sincere. Your post itself is creative, so you know (in case you think you should include yourself in the lot of those who reluctantly bear their creative image).

  1. Appreciate your thoughts. I’m teaching a class on art and Christianity and we’re exploring similar ideas. I’ve found Michael Gungor’s book, The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse to be very inspiring and helpful. This is a conversation we need to have.

    • Great, thanks for the recommendation. I really like Michael Gungor so I’ll have to check it out. And this is what I’ll be talking about at WildGoose Fest this summer as well, so I agree, it’s a conversation we need to have and I hope to keep having!

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