For too many Christians, their life is defined by what they don’t do. “I don’t drink…I don’t smoke…I don’t steal…I’ve never murdered or committed adultery…I don’t watch sport on Sundays…etc.”
However valid such ethical deductions are, this imbalanced negativity devastates creativity. These powerful opposing forces simply cannot live together. One must die…and it’s usually creativity that’s the unfortunate victim. “Don’t” almost always kills “Do.”
Just think of a boy who only hears a steady stream of “Don’ts” from his parents. All day, every day, the child is subjected to unrelenting negativity. Even when the boy tries to nail some wood together, the Dad shouts, “Don’t touch my saw!” as the Mom joins the duet with, “Don’t cut yourself!” And so it goes on. Do you think that child is going to thrive and develop? Will he pursue innovation and development? Will he ever experiment or take a risk? Highly unlikely. “Don’t” kills “Do.”
For creativity to revive in the Christian community, there needs to be a resurrection of the Scriptural emphasis on positive commands, positive ethics, and positive imperatives (while not losing the necessary negatives along the way).
Think of our first parents. While they were given one negative command regarding eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the first and most prominent command was a positive: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The same command was given to Noah in the post-fall world, though additional negatives were also added to take account of the rapidly deteriorating conditions. Clearly, God’s purposes still included filling and ruling what he created.
Also, although most of the Ten Commandments are stated negatively, consider the positive way that Christ sums them up: “Love God and love your neighbor.” A large part of that double-love is expressed by multiplying, filling, and ruling the earth.
Creation Commission = Great Commission?
Even the Great Commission is such a positive command. Some might say, “Yes, but it’s got nothing to say about creativity, about filling and ruling the earth. It’s about baptizing and making disciples, spiritual activities within the church.”
However, there are some very obvious overlaps between the Creation Commission and the Great Commission. Both involve multiplying, filling, and ruling. Both share the same arena – the whole world.
Part of making disciples is teaching them how to fill and rule the world, and there’s no more effective way of filling and ruling the world than through making disciples.
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