“But I’m just a Mom!” “But I don’t have a PhD!” “But I work in an office!” “But I’m only 15!” That’s what you’re thinking isn’t it. Creativity is for boffins, eccentrics, artists, novelists, designers and geniuses. “Jobs, Gates, Ford, Edison, J.K Rowling, Gucci…me! My name doesn’t belong in such a pantheon.”
Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Every single one of us is a creator. Whether we are a plumber, an architect, a farmer, a secretary, a homemaker, a student, or a preacher, we are all creating something every day of our lives:
- I see a muddy plumber creating a water-tight waste disposal pipe connection.
- I see a suited architect creating an energy-efficient office.
- I see a sweating farmer creating hundreds of perfect furrows.
- I see a stressed secretary creating an efficient filing system.
- I see a bedraggled homemaker creating a beautiful meal in the kitchen.
- I see a diligent student creating an entertaining presentation on electricity.
- I see a faithful preacher creating an engaging and attractive sermon.
And that’s how God views us too. If we could catch even a glimpse of how God views us as His image-bearing co-creators, it would not only revolutionize the way we view and do our ordinary everyday work, it would also inspire us to exercise our Creator’s creative gifts in all of life.
That’s because nothing is more powerful in our lives than the way we view ourselves. If I view myself as a passive cog in a machine, I’m unlikely to take much initiative, and I’m probably going to blame others for my problems. If I view myself as the center of the world, then I’ll spend my time trying to get others to serve me and to meet my needs. Neither of these self-images will help to produce personal creativity. Indeed they will block and stifle it.
Miss or Dismiss
Sadly, the Church has often failed to articulate our image-bearing in positive and practical terms. For example, if you look up commentaries on Genesis 1:26-28, where humanity made in God’s image is introduced, you’ll find that most of them get thoroughly bogged down in philosophical and existential questions about what “image” and “likeness” mean. However most miss or dismiss the connection between these two words and the immediate context of “filling” and “ruling” the earth.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines the image of God as follows:
God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
Although this answer mentions our creation-dominion, most expositions of the catechism focus on knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and pay little attention to the last phrase “with dominion over the creatures.”
Such a one-sided focus on “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness” produces images of books, classrooms, and church services. However, when we add “filling” and “ruling,” we extend our image-bearing to the home, the office, the factory, and the yard, and in fact to “the whole earth” (Gen. 1:26, 28).
While the New Testament confirms that the image of God includes knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), it also connects that spiritual likeness with practical Christian living that manifests itself in managing and thriving in life’s multiple relationships and responsibilities (Eph.4:25ff; Col. 3:11ff). In other words, image-bearing creativity is exercised and demonstrated by ordinary people in everyday life.
By including “filling” and “ruling” in our understanding of being made in God’s image, we pump gallons of creativity-fuel into our lives. For Adam, imaging his Creator meant innovating and pioneering in managing animals and cultivating the soil. For us it may mean displaying creativity in cooking meals, in administering an office, in building a house, in growing a garden, or in writing a term paper.
Though we are separated from Adam by thousands of years, and aeons of technology, our self-image remains the key to productivity and creativity. “Who am I?” will determine “What will I do?”
Tomorrow we’ll look at a second major creative block: Creatorless Creativity.
Image Credit: BigStockPhoto.com
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