Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe you've said it, "I'm not very creative; I
can't even draw a stick figure"? While it's true that many people can't draw, the visual arts are not the only measurement for determining creativity. In fact, I believe creativity is a hallmark trait of being made in
When God created Adam and Eve, he said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" Genesis 1: 26-27 (ESV).
As Christians, we understand the term, us in Genesis 1 as a direct reference to the triune* nature of One God who is manifested in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On the other hand, there are those who would say the us is a reference to God's heavenly court, meaning God and his angels. However, this presents a problem, because people are not created in the image of an angel. We—human beings, male and female, and not any of the other animals—are created in God's image (*tselem in Hebrew), and in his likeness (*demuth in Hebrew). This image-likeness must refer to inward qualities such as our eternal nature, our intellect, our morality, our social nature, and our ability to love and be loved; all of which has been damaged because of the fall—sin has marred our God-like image. Yet, because of Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection, we can be restored by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, to be conformed into the image of Jesus, who is the exact representation of our Father God (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:3).
The words create, created, and made or make are used interchangeably throughout Scripture, and are sometimes used to explain the same event, as referenced in Genesis 1, above. The Old Testament Hebrew word for create, bara', means God-shaping, God-forming, or God-fashioning what was "not there before" (Latin, ex nihilo, out of nothing.) The Hebrew word for made or make in Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man. . ." is 'asah, which means to fashion, accomplish, make, work, produce, prepare, to make an offering, appoint.
Only God can bara', that is create something from nothing, but both God and people can 'asah, make things. In Genesis 1:26-27, bara' and 'asah are used interchangeably and refer to God's work in creation. In Exodus 25-28, God instructed Moses to have the children of Israel make ('asah) him a Sanctuary, and all the components within the Sanctuary such as, making candlesticks, a wooden chest, curtains, frames, and hooks, to name a few. They were to make things ('asah) from existing things that God had created (bara') from nothing. Throughout the Old Testament 'asah may refer to making a cake, a garden, a crown, or even making an agreement. There are a lot more! In fact, there are over 2000 references of 'asah, some pertain to God-making or doing, and others to people-making or doing.
In Psalm 51:10 David pleads, "Create (bara') in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." David knew in order to have a clean heart, it would be God's doing. David couldn't "make" his heart clean! But he also knew there was a purpose in having a clean heart, "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You" Psalm 51:13.
The equivalent New Testament Greek word for God's creative work is ktizo or ktisis, meaning to create, form, or shape, making something from nothing. The Apostle Paul tells us that those who are in Christ are a God-created work, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (ktisis); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" 2 Corinthians 5:17. And like David who understood that having a clean heart was not just for his benefit, God's children are made into new creatures for a purpose. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created (ktizo) in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" Ephesians 2:8-10.
Because we are made in God's image*, it makes sense that creativity would be part of our DNA. Of course, not all of us can sing well, write a novel, play a musical instrument, or even draw a stick figure. But these are too narrow a definition of creativity! Consider what you can do! Can you make ('asah) a cake? Can you make ('asah) a garden? Can you make ('asah) an agreement—can you be agreeable? Can you make ('asah) a friend? Can you make ('asah) a card to send to someone who is sick or suffering? Can you make ('asah) a prayer? Can you make ('asah) order out of chaos—by helping a friend in their time of need? Can you make ('asah) your witness for Christ known? All of us can make ('asah) something and do it with the purpose of bringing God's kingdom to others. And we can do it with the knowledge that we have God's creative DNA working in us to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). Our good works reflect God's image, his likeness, to the world!
My good friend and editor, Kit MacLeod, shared her experience of volunteering at an elementary school, and how God's creative DNA was available to her. She wrote, "I realized a lot of the things I've done were more spur of the minute inspired, rather than planned. That goes back to the concept of being open to God's inspiration, praying for it, and believing it will flow according to His perfect plan. I remember reading the book Owl Moon to a group of second graders, and seeing that there were some children who were not very engaged. That particular book has the owl's "whoo-whoo-whooo" repeated throughout. After I read it dramatically the first time, on a whim I encouraged them to join in with me. As I continued reading, even the most reluctant students became more and more engaged. They were hanging on every word, waiting for their next chance to dramatically hoot, grinning all the time. When we finished reading, they applauded, delighted with the story and their part in it. I believe the inspiration to engage them that way was just God's creativity flowing through me, showing me opportunities to enjoy and share enjoyment of His creative Spirit."
So, let us begin thinking of ways to put God's creative intellect and power to work in our lives, so that others may believe, be encouraged, and grow in their faith! And when you tap into your creativity, I believe you will discover a deep joy, and a Divine creative flow at work within you!
1) What does being made in God's image mean to you?
2) How would you define creativity?
3) In what ways can you develop your God-given creativity?
4) How can you use your creativity to help others and further God's kingdom?
5) Over the next week, pray for God's creative flow in your life. Make an effort to pay attention to and be mindful of the ways he provides it to you. Notice your own joy in those experiences. Thank God for blessing you with creativity and continue to pray for more opportunities to enjoy and share it.
*According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
"Image," the Hebrew term, "tselem," is from an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol -- image, vain shew. (We are not to make "graven images," "tselem," "carved idols.") And "Likeness," the Hebrew, "demuth," is to "model, shape, fashion, to resemble, liken, consider."
With these Hebrew terms in mind, we are to be representative figures of the One True God, reflecting our Lord's likeness to the world.
How has God inspired you to be creative?
Click here to learn of another creative way to engage students in story time.
*Jewish scholars reject the idea of a triune being. However, they must still deal with at least the duality of God and his Spirit, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" Genesis 1:1-2. (See also, Genesis 6:3, Exodus 31:3, or Numbers 11:25 to name just a few.)
Holy Bible: KJV, ESV, NIRV
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Copyright 2015 Sarah A. Keith
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