Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Creativity and Christianity

This post is part of a synchroblog - where a lot of different bloggers write about the same topic.

We are supposed to take the theme of creativity and Christianity as our theme this month. When I read the topic, the first thing that came into my mind was, "What? I'm supposed to be creative? When, in between teaching and grading and dissertating and parenting and wifing -yes, I just verbed wife, I'm being creative - am I supposed to find time for creativity?"

Luckily, the synchroblog moderator posts the topic early, so I've had time to think about this for a while, and I've come to a few different ways of thinking about the role of creativity in the life of a Christian. First, my theology is  informed by a view of God as Creator. When I look around me at the world, I am struck by the wonder and beauty of the created world. The diversity and splendor of creation teach me something about the nature of God. Even understanding the biological and geological processes that are in play, I still see the hand of someone creating something for the sheer beauty of it. Wilderness places are always places where I can feel the hand of God.

Created nature also teaches me something about the nature of God. He has a sense of humor - just look at the platypus. The thousands of different beetles let me know that there are lots of ways that the same job can get done, and helps me fight my natural tendency to insist on my way or the highway. The interconnectedness of redwood trees, with their roots linking into each other, supporting each other, sustaining each other, teaches me about how to support members of my community, and also emphasizes how reliant I am on the support of others for my own survival. All of these lessons affect my praxis on a daily basis, as I strive to become more like the Creator in my own life.

However, for Christians, nature also has a different meaning. We know that "the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam." We are natural, sinners, carnal and sensual. To become like Christ requires us to reject our nature, and create something new. I have always loved Jehovah's words to Jeremiah.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
I see myself not only as clay in the potter's hand, but as the potter, with the clay being the stuff of life. I tend to make my life as I see fit to make it, and frequently that creates a marred vessel. My pride and arrogance keep me from being a fit vessel, from being a vessel of the Lord. However, the Lord can make of us a perfect vessel. I reject my nature, a hardened heart and a rebellious spirit, to become malleable as moistened clay in the hand of the Lord, to do His work.

This is where I am creative - in surrendering creative control over my life to the Lord. He is the master artist, and can make of my life more than I can on my own. I may not be an artist or a poet or a playwright, but I am creating a life in the image of Christ, and I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

Other posts in the synchroblog:


Jeremy Myers said...

I love your last paragraph. It is amazing to think that each of us are masterpieces of God. Thanks for the reminder!

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