Pursuing Godly Creativity

by Oct 29, 2010

Mike Cosper writes this:

In Genesis 2, God gives us the paradigm for all of our creative work. In Genesis 1, the pattern of creation had been ex nihilo, God speaking creation into being out of nothing. But in Genesis 2, God’s pattern changes. With Adam, God begins with the dust, shaping it into the form of a man and breathing his breath of life into him. With Eve, he again takes something else he’d made (Adam’s rib) and transforms it into something new.

As long as humans have lived—wherever they’ve lived—they’ve followed his creative pattern. Creativity is the human impulse to take what God has made, shape it, and make it new. Little boys chew crackers into the shape of guns and shoot one another across the dinner table. My toddler daughter turns everything—from little books to cheeseburgers—into a phone, pressing it against her ear and saying, “Hello?”

Painters take canvas, oils, and pigments, then order them in such a way that the viewer no longer sees them as mere materials, but as a landscape or a portrait. Creativity leads to new-making, and the creations that emerge are not defined by their substance, but by the creative work that’s reshaped them. No one looks at the Mona Lisa and says, “What a lovely arrangement of oils and pigments,” just as no one looks at a building and says, “That’s a well-assembled collection of brick, mortar, and wood.”

Music, too, is a discovery of God’s own creative handiwork. Early in human history, someone discovered that God made the world in such a way that just about everything hums and vibrates, emitting sounds and pitches of infinite variety. Those tones and pitches are ordered in rhythm and mathematical order, and songs are born. While we don’t know who invented the wheel or built the first fire, the Scriptures do tell us who made the first musical instruments (Genesis 4:21).

This creative impulse is utterly pervasive. We see it in computer programming and dog grooming, farming and plumbing, and of course, throughout the creative marketplace in music, movies, visual art, theater, and dance.

It begins with an act of discovery: We find that God’s handiwork has left creation brimming with opportunity. So with the gifts of imagination and creativity he’s given to us, we cultivate and craft it into something new. It’s as much a definition for work as it is for creativity.