In the Beginning: Let’s Get Creative!

This post is unfinished, but since some of you are in such a hurry to read Sunday’s sermon (you know who you are ;)), here it is behind the jump. I’ll update this space later.

As I’ve shared before, I grew up with a love for movies. Whenever my friends and I would go see a new movie, we’d spend hours and sometimes even days re-enacting, re-telling, and even re-inventing the story. Sometimes we’d leave the story the way it was. Other times, we’d make up a story about what happened after the film’s conclusion. If a story was compelling enough and if it was told well enough, it stuck with us for a long time. It would awaken something within me, forcing me to respond in some way.

There have been a few times in my adult life where I’ve had a similar experience after encountering a well-told story. In early 2003, Christy and I were visiting friends in Florida and they took us to see the musical, The Rock and the Rabbi. It tells the story of the friendship between Simon Peter and Jesus. It’s a fusion of an acoustic concert, storytelling, and a part musical-theater. And it’s a powerful experience.

Driving back to our friends’ home that evening, we couldn’t help but talk about the show. Because they knew the creators of the show, they had seen it several times and were still in awe at the experience. There was something growing inside of me because of what I had seen and I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. Finally, I realized what it was. “After seeing something like this,” I said to my friend, “I can’t help but feel the need to create something.” In other words, I was inspired. And I felt like I needed to do something. There was something about this display of creativity that compelled me to respond by using my own creativity.

The same thing happened later that year after watching The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with my brother and my dad in the movie theater. The images were so powerful and the story was so engaging that I left that theater inspired to create something…I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I needed to make something…anything. I grabbed a pad of paper and started doodling and then I started writing a short story. Images and words were running through my head and I wished I had the equipment and talent to make a movie of my own. Even though I didn’t make that movie and I really didn’t create something that is worth sharing in public, there was still something about that experience that inspired me and compelled me to create.

When these desires to create were awakened within me, I don’t think it was by accident. In fact, I believe they were glimpses into the very core of humanity that has been with us since the dawn of time. If you have your Bibles with you, please turn with me to Genesis chapter 1.  If you don’t have your Bible with you, you’re welcome to use the one in the pew in front of you. Genesis 1 is found on page 1 of those red Bibles.

We are continuing our journey through the opening pages of the story of Genesis, which is also the beginning of the unfolding of God’s story. Last week, we only got four words into the beginning of God’s story with a reminder that everything begins and ends with the Lord. I promise that we’ll get past the first four words this morning.

Read Genesis 1:1-2:3

Thousands of sermons have been delivered about this passage. And if we wanted to, we could very easily spend the next two months-worth of Sundays pulling out the different aspects of this amazing account of God bringing everything into being. We could focus our time talking about the pattern displayed here: God creates the form first, like the heavens and the earth. And then He fills the form with stars and heavenly bodies and water and land and plants and animals and everything else in this amazing creation.

Or, we could talk about how the formation of all of creation follows a logical progression. You have to create light before you can have it come from a star. And before there was a sun to produce light, theologians believe that God Himself was the source of light – just as He will be in the New Heaven and the New Earth. In that same progression, you have to have land, water, and atmosphere before you can have sea creatures, land dwellers, and creatures in the air. Creation does follow a logical progression. And we could spend the rest of the morning talking about that.

Or, we could get into a deep theological discussion about how the Trinity was present at creation. You have God the Father as the Author and Creator. And you’ll remember that John 1:1-3 tells us that Jesus, the Word, was present and active in the dawn of all things. And here in Genesis 1:2, there’s a reference to the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. Many theologians believe this is a reference to the Holy Spirit.

Then in Genesis 1:26, God refers to Himself in the plural, which is another reference to the mystical nature of One God composed of Three Persons. If you were at the Crash Course on the Old Testament this past Wednesday evening, you’ll remember that this shows us that God has always been in community with Himself. Three Persons in one Being means that God has never been alone. And when He created Adam, as explained in the second chapter of Genesis, He saw that Adam was alone. He didn’t belong to community – something that was completely foreign to God and His nature. And He knew that was not good. We could focus on how from the very beginning of time we were intended to be in community with one another. No man is an island and we were not intended to be alone.

And speaking of the three-part nature of God, we could focus on how we’re created in His image. God has three natures: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We also have three natures: body, mind, and soul. And we could focus on how these three are intertwined, just like the three-part nature of the One True God.

That’s a lot of information to pull out of these few verses. And I truly believe we could spend considerable time dealing with each theme found in this section of Scripture. And maybe we will do that at some point. But not today. The thing that continually sticks out when I read this passage is the amazing imagination of our Creator. Do you think He chuckled when He gave the giraffe such a long neck? Do you think He turned to the hosts of heaven and said, “Now, watch this,” when He dug out the Grand Canyon or when He shaped Victoria Falls? Or what about the stars and planets He hung in the sky?  Do you think He made something extremely slow like a tortoise or two-toed sloth immediately after creating a cheetah? After creating the whale and the elephant, did He go micro-sized and create the ants and the hummingbird?

And what about the ingenuity of using tiny little atoms to form molecules which serve as the building blocks of the universe? I’ve played with building blocks before. And I have trouble seeing two or three steps beyond what I’m doing. Can you imagine the amazing vision of the Creator to be able to use all of these building blocks to create…this? And did you hear in the news this week? For the first time ever, they’ve actually been able to photograph one of these small molecules. It’s amazing how God used and continues to use such tiny pieces to create such a masterpiece. When you go outside and see the wonders of creation: the fields of grain waving in the breeze; a majestic, snow-capped mountaintop; an awe-inspiring waterfall; or a peaceful brook, you cannot help but see those things in wonder at what an amazingly creative Artist our God truly is.

And in verse 26 of Genesis 1, we’re told that we were made in God’s image. We were created in the image of our Creator. If we can gather anything from the previous verses, it’s how creative God truly is. And if we’re made in the image of an imaginative Creator, then that would also mean that we were created to create. It pleases God when we use our creativity to His glory.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You can’t sing. You might not even be able to carry a tune – even if you had a bucket. You couldn’t draw a picture of a house to save your life. And you can’t compose songs, write stories, and the most thought-provoking poem you can come up with goes something like this:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Some poems rhyme
Some don’t.

You think you don’t have a creative bone in your body. I beg to differ. Creativity and artistry are not the same thing. God has given you a unique blend of talents and gifts that are yours. And He wants you to use them for His glory. Many of those talents and gifts involve a great deal of creativity and ingenuity.

Are you a problem-solver? Don’t you think that requires creative thinking? Use your problem-solving ability to bring God glory. And when you come up with a solution, give Him the praise!

I know some of you are gifted with a green thumb. It requires a certain amount of creativity to be able to keep some of those plants alive. Use your gift of a green thumb to bring God glory.

And I know there are some good cooks in this room. I’ve been to the Carry-ins and tasted it. Cooking requires creativity, don’t you think? It pleases God when you use that creativity and your God-given talent to make delicious food. So use that gift to bring God glory!

As you know, we’re preparing to welcome another child into our family. We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out where to put all of the stuff that was once in the room that is now going to be our Nursery. We’re discovering that organizing rooms and rearranging houses takes a great deal of creativity. We’ve also been cleaning the inside of the parsonage like mad men. And it even takes a certain amount of creativity to make the most of your cleaning efforts. Some of you may find your joy in cleaning. That gift and that creativity involved can also be used to the glory of God. When you’re on your knees, scrubbing the baseboards, give God the praise!

The church around the world needs a whole lot more innovators and a whole lot less complainers. We need fewer imitators and more dreamers. We need fewer critics and more people to use their God-given creativity to fix whatever problems they see.[1]

Christians should be the most creative people on the planet. After all, we have a friendship with the Creator of the entire universe. We need to spend more time using that creativity to God’s glory. While in seminary, I got to know David and Rebecca, who had recently gotten married. David has an amazing, God-given acting ability. And this couple has decided to move to Los Angeles to try to discover how they can use their creativity to shine the light of God’s love in the midst of Hollywood itself. When they moved out there, they didn’t even have a place to live lined up. But they know that God will use their obedience and their creative ability to accomplish His will – whatever that may be. They are serving as salt and light by using their creative gifts.

Using your creativity to God’s glory could mean going on a short-term trip to Liberia to use your technical knowledge and understanding to help them build water purification systems. Working in a field like that requires a great deal of God-given creativity.

Using your creativity to God’s glory could mean baking a batch of cupcakes and visiting a neighbor you’ve never met…just because. You might not see immediate results, but God will honor your obedience and use of your gift.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to suggestions. Use your own creativity to come up with a way you can honor God with your gifts, serving as salt and light in a world that is descending into hell. That might mean thinking outside the proverbial box from time to time. It might mean stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something a little crazy. But let’s get creative and begin thinking of and doing things that will impact our community with the life-changing message of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Let’s get creative and be what we were made to be.

[1] This is from a quote by Mark Batterson that I shared in a blog post –

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