I’ve owned a small photography business for a few years and I’m always trying to improve my skills. I am currently taking a class on composition, and at the beginning of the course, students were asked to post a picture that reveals who you are as an artist. My first thought was, “but I’m not really an artist, I just take pictures.” I almost had to laugh at myself later. I can’t paint or draw (my six-year-old is already better than me on those fronts), but there are so many ways to be an artist.
Line one, page one of the Bible starts out “in the beginning, God created…” a few verses later we read, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). We just finished reading over and over how God created something, land, light, creatures, and then God basically says, “let’s make something like me,” so your mind is already primed to think of God’s creative nature. There are a lot of ways to understand how we are made in God’s image, which is one of the amazing things about the creation story. But I want to focus on how our creativity displays God’s creativity to a watching world.
Creativity in Thought
Jesus was a master of creative thought. He creativity engaged his culture by challenging traditions and assumptions. He used lines like, “you have heard it said…, but I say…” (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, etc.) We can do the same kind of thing when we think of God-honoring solutions to conflict, when we show compassion when encountering someone with a different mind-set than our own, or just when our everyday walk looks different from the rest of culture.
Creativity in Word
Almost a third of the Bible is poetry. Another big portion is narrative. We need poets and prophets in our churches. The written word can challenge and instruct. Words in song unite and teach. Writing a poem, telling a story, or composing a song are all bold ways of putting values, beliefs, and thoughts in a public space and declaring what the people of God are like.
Creativity in Craft
Jesus was a carpenter, or probably more accurately, a stone mason (please tell me how many wooden structures you see in Israel!) Useful crafts tell a story and invite conversation whether you are building a table, crocheting a scarf, or designing a social media graphic. Doing something simply for aesthetic pleasure is not wasteful or trivial, but reflects the one who created our beautiful world. Creating a thing of beauty declares that people are more valuable than the widgets they create.
Creativity in the Church Body
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…for the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor. 12:12, 14). Diversity within the church expresses the complexity of an amazing God. I’ve just scratched the surface of the ways the church body can be creative. I could go on about games, music, painting, theater, and on and on.
Our churches would do well to use the creativity found in its members. I appreciate that, as Brethren, we are trying to encourage and support the arts through the Story and Song initiative because it celebrates the many ways the Church can contribute beauty and reflect God’s creativity.
I encourage you to tap into your creativity and become an artist for God’s glory. You are more creative than you can even imagine. I hope to see some of your skills on display at Conference this year. But even if you aren’t submitting something for the project, look for ways that you can contribute to your community. We all need what you have.