Article by: Adam Sapelak, Church Community Pastor
One of my least favourite phrases I hear is, ‘I’m not creative.’ I understand that people probably mean they are not artistically talented, perhaps regarding drawing or painting, but this is a limited view of creation. We often have a confused definition of terms, and I believe that confusion goes deeper within many of us, and we miss an essential truth about God and ourselves.
Let’s look back to the very beginning, to the first works of God. It all begins with what is often called the creation story. It only takes God six days to work, but the results are immeasurable. He created everything we see, from the universe and the stars to the grass, the hills and all the creatures that fill the lands, air and sea. Then, just before He rested on the seventh day, He put His hand on one more creation.
‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image. In the Image of God, He created them; male and female, he created them.’ (Genesis 1:26-27)
God created man and woman. He did not make us the same as any of the creations before us, and He made us in His image. This point cannot be understated, as our reflection of God separates humankind from everything surrounding us. Fast forward to the New Testament, we are reminded that we are created anew as we receive Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Creation is a big deal for us humans. Jumping back to Genesis, it can almost seem as if God was done creating as He takes a rest on the seventh day, and from there, the story of man and our relationship with God unfolds.
But the act of creation did not end there. His creation (us) was made to continue creating in the world He placed us in. Creation is part of our DNA. We are created in His image, and like our God, we are built to make, work, and create. Creativity takes on many forms and functions; when we bring order out of chaos, build, fix, invent, organize, develop, design, resolve a problem or balance a spreadsheet, and the list goes on. This aspect of our nature is so integral that we cannot even help doing it whether we know God personally or not. It could be argued that we only create because our survival requires it; we need to hunt and grow food to eat and build to have shelter. And while there are times when our physical needs drive our work, we have to face the magnitude of change and development our societies have gone through from the beginning of time to the present day and admit our creative spirit is alive and well and has continued long beyond the basic needs of survival.
Then we need to look at our relationship with the Holy Spirit. When discussing the Holy Spirit, we often think of the supernatural. We think of power, prophecy, healing, and the spiritual gifts the Bible outlines. These are all valid aspects of how the Spirit works within and through us, but let’s not be so quick to limit God’s power and purpose in His creation. We love to box Him in to understand God at a more human level, but our limited thinking will not contain Him. The Spirit’s work in us cannot be entirely categorically organized and explained, despite our efforts to do that very thing. It would be fascinating to investigate all the occurrences people are filled with the Holy Spirit in the Bible and how the Spirit works in and through those people in each situation. I won’t launch into that whole study, but I want to draw our attention to the first mention in the Word when someone is filled with the Spirit, not including when God literally breathes into Adam to give him life.
The first Spirit filling we read about occurs when God gives Moses instructions about constructing the Tabernacle, where His presence would reside with the people of Isreal. God chooses to fill one man: Moses, and not with what we often define as miraculous Spiritual gifts, though what this man receives is still miraculous. What he receives is much more “normal,” if I can use that word. The Spirit’s empowerment is practical, physical, and deeply creative!
‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – 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 crafts.”‘ (Exodus 31:1-5) Aside from wisdom and knowledge, Bezalel was gifted with practical skills and building abilities. He received the skills to work with his hands to create beautiful things, a space and place for God’s presence out of physical materials. This filling of the Holy Spirit resulted in a master builder, not a preacher, healer or prophet.
The Holy Spirit enables us to create. We take what God has already made and has given us, along with our creative nature and the Holy Spirit, and create more with our hands and lives. This infuses purpose into all we do, reminding us that our good work is not only through our words, but it will also come through our hands in our daily jobs, chores and tasks. Whether we are cleaning the house or building a Fortune 500 company, we are created to work, and there is a creative aspect within that work. There is simplicity and yet also power in our jobs as Thessalonians reminds us, “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
Every single one of us is working and creative. We can’t help it. Some people’s creations may be more obvious, on display and praised by others, but that does not make them more creative or significant than you or me. Whether you are a designer of an office, the banker managing the mortgage, the receptionist at the front desk or the janitor that cleans it, you are all involved in creative work that is good and significant. Whatever it is we do, when we work for God and with God, we are engaged in a good work with results we cannot and will never be able to fully see this side of Heaven. We are all creators in our own way, to use our transformed lives to create a culture and a world that testifies to God’s loving presence.