THE TONY CROSS COLUMN
Article No. 170
Our creative God[for archived material please go to tonycrosscolumn.org.uk]
One of the most exciting things about the Christian religion is that our God is a creative God. Centuries ago the Psalmist said “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” And through all the time up to and since the arrival of Jesus people have looked on the loveliness and the enormity of creation in wonder. Recent scientific advances - such as the Hubble telescope - have revealed to us fresh wonders in the cosmos. My paper recently carried some incredible photographs of the nebulae of stars that showed an almost unimaginable beauty. It is our creative God who has put together this universe and who has made us capable of wonder. Our eyes see the glory of the heavens and our minds are baffled at the enormity of it all.
The incredible creativity of God is matched, of course, by the simple fact that God sustains his creation. Every thing that exists has been brought into existence by our God and he holds the whole in existence by his power and purpose. Not only our lives and the ability to be in relationship with this God, who is our Father, but also every leaf and twig, every drop of water, everything that we can see and touch - all these have been brought into being by our God and are sustained by him every moment of their existence. If God ceased to will our existence at any moment our world and the entire universe would disappear. Vanish as if we had never been.
The second most exciting thing about this wonderful God of ours must be that he shares his creativity with his creatures. The bible tells us that we are made in God’s image. Whatever that means, it must mean that the creative urge that we feel from time to time is a reflection of the nature of our God. Whatever creativity we show - and all of us show this faculty of creativity all the time - it comes from our Maker - our God. We mirror his nature in this respect. We can only guess at the extent of his creativity. In a much smaller way we are able to marvel at the creative talent of someone like Leonardo da Vince, for example. To see his inventive mind questing down all sorts of entirely new avenues makes one see that this gift of creativity is realised more in some people than in others. Yet we all share in this creativity. Each one of us uses this ability to be creative in our daily lives in greater or lesser degree. Not only in the lives of artists and writers, but also in our daily living it is obvious that it is our creativity that comes into play in our relationships, in our work, in our thinking.
There is an allied theme of the New Testament in the letters of St Paul. He talks of being co-workers with God (1 Cor. 3.9) and by this he must mean that God is sharing with us the working out of his purposes. This is a theme too often passed over, yet surely it is one of the most important in the New Testament.
Its importance lies here: it is his creativity that God shares with us, and it is his purposes that he invites us to participate in. What does this mean for Christians? Well, it first of all means that whenever any person uses their creativity they are reflecting the creativity of God and in doing this they are fulfilling his purpose. What does that mean? It means that whatever happens in this world, God is able through his omnipotent power and his absolute love for us, and by his boundless creativity, to use whatever happens for his purposes.
Lets take an example from the New Testament. It would have been very easy for Paul and Silas, after they had been beaten with rods in Phillippi (Acts 16) to have nursed their wounds as they lay in the middle of the night in that dark and lonely dungeon below ground. They must have felt utterly shattered, both physically and emotionally. Yet what did they do? They sang hymns at midnight! That in itself tells us a lot about how Paul and Silas had opened themselves to let the creativity of God operate fully in their lives. They felt the urge to reassert the power and love of their creator - and they sang hymns at midnight. God then used that creativity and we all know what happened - the jailor came, was converted, and they were released.
But lets take an even greater event - the greatest event that ever happened. The death of Jesus. We all know the story backwards - accused unjustly, condemned with scourging, crucified with taunts and jeers. The very worst possible outcome from a human point of view that could possibly be imagined. For the disciples - either looking at the cross from a distance or hearing afterwards about the crucifixion - that period must have been a time of utmost despair. All their hopes and all their human devotion to their leader was at an end. He was dead. The future must have looked utterly bleak.
Yet what happened? Our creative God took the crucifixion and brought out of it the greatest triumph that could possibly be imagined. Women today wear little gold crucifixes or crosses around their necks and this shows how completely that disaster was turned into a victory. Not just a victory - but the victory. Victory over death. What a creative God! The despair of the disciples was turned into joy and wonder, and then into purpose - to spread the message far and wide.
All the activities described in the New Testament can be seen in terms of the released creativity of the new Christians as they gloried in the gospel by which they now lived. They had a new hope, a new purpose. Everything that had been so confused and unclear now slotted into place and they could see what God required of them. They just went out and creatively lived and shared the gospel.
So what relevance has this for us today?
Once we recognise that being creative is a gift from our God and that we can choose to be more creative or we can choose to shut down on our creativity, then we are on the road to being much more used by God. Being much more able to join him in his creative task of bringing this world into line with what he desires for us all. So lets look at some ways in which we can release the creativity of God through our lives.
I have found that the first and most important thing I can do is to actually open my life to God. That is not being ‘super-spiritual’! It can be done in a thousand different ways, but one way that many Christians have found is by the morning quiet time. This is a period - perhaps half and hour, or on busy days longer, for the need is greater - of quiet before we plunge into the work of the day. I have done this - on most but, alack, not on all days - for decades and recommend it to you if the idea is new. By setting oneself apart - in a room, on a walk with the dog, in a church on the way to work, or in any of a hundred ways - one is able to still the clamouring brain that has a queue of things to think about, and to just rest in God’s presence. He loves us individually and makes himself known to us whenever we open ourselves to him.
The second way that one can open oneself to the creativity of God flowing through one’s life is to think creatively for the people around you. Think of them individually for a moment. Hold them in the centre of your mind, one by one, and see them blessed by God. If a new thought comes to you as to how you might interact with them, then don’t dismiss it, for that is how God implants his creative purposes in us sometimes. Clear thoughts - inspiration - can come from the mind of God to his children.
Another strong theme of the New Testament is that God guides us through his Spirit. Accept that and realise that the creativity of God linked to his guidance (and empowerment) sets you on exactly the same level as Paul and Silas in that dungeon in Phillippi that night.
The incredible creativity of God waits to be channelled more fully through your life. There is no situation where creativity cannot make a difference. The incredible love of God waits to be channelled through your daily living. The incredible power of God is available in all your beings and doings today. It can even turn insults into blessings. It can transform your response to any homophobic attitudes in those you meet today - enabling you to meet that hate with love. It can inspire you to heights you have never imagined. Welcome the new life God wants to live through you! You are a partner with Him in his purposes. His creativity can flow through you to others today. Let it flow!