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What is the first verb used in the bible? It is the granddaddy of all
verbs-"create!" It is a verb with atomic impact.
Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created..." No subtleties in
this verse-it leaves no room for argument-you may choose to argue about
HOW God created the heaven and the earth, but it is impossible to argue
about who the creator was.
If it is impossible to argue, why do so many people not get it?
In his book, The Jewish Theory of Everything, Max Anteby writes, "On
April 12, 1961, a young Russian cosmonaut stepped in front of the cameras,
as he was about to board his spacecraft, Vostok l, for what was going to
be man's first voyage into outer space. Yuri Gagarin announced, 'Now I
go to meet nature face to face in an unprecedented encounter.'
For the next several hours, Gagarin encountered nature in a way that
no man had done before, far beyond the reaches of the clouds, to a place
bordering on the infinite. He had an awesome responsibility to chronicle
for mankind what existed outside the Earth's realm and man's control.
Upon his return to earth he remarked, 'Now I know that God does not
exist, because I was there and I didn't see him.'
Less than one year later, John H. Glenn entered his spacecraft, Freedom
7, in America's attempt to beat the Russians in the race to space. He brought
a Bible along with him. As he peered through the small window of his capsule,
he looked out on the enormity of the universe and on the delicate fragility
of our own Earth. He felt the presence of the 'Hand of Almighty God' as
he recited from the first chapter of Genesis." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Why was Glenn's reaction different than Gagarin's? When you know the
Creator, you notice his signature throughout His creation. When you don't
know Him, all you see is nature. In Romans 1:20 Paul wrote that nature
clearly displays the attributes of God, "For since the creation of the
world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made..." (NASB)
This verse captures the essence of the importance of the verb: create.
It is impossible to create something without pouring your soul into it.
Erwin McManus, the Lead Pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, says, "We believe
everything is connected. When you sit along the ocean and watch the waves
crash up against the rocks, something resonates inside you for a reason.
When you're in the woods, listening to a river and serenity overcomes you
for a reason, because God created everything to be interconnected as an
expression of Him."
The creation reveals the Creator. Just like God's creation displays
His attributes, the things we create communicate something about us.
I have several pieces of furniture that my Father made, but my favorite
is a deacon's bench. It is a simple piece of furniture, rather straightforward,
but it radiates strength. The lines are straight, and the curves are symmetrical.
I don't know if it would appeal to you or not, but I love looking at it.
I love looking at it because it reflects something of my Dad's character-strong,
straightforward, honest. Whenever I look at his craftsmanship, it makes
me think about him.
WHEN WE CREATE, WE CANNOT HELP REVEAL OUR SOULS. Put a piece of Robert
Mapplethorpe's homoerotic art next to one of Thomas Kinkade's paintings
and see the contrast. One has a dark, sinister spirit; the other is filled
with light and hope. Why are they so different? Because of the differences
in the two people's souls.
I hang some of the pictures that children in the church draw me up in
my office. Some of them are signed, some of them are not, but I can tell
you who drew the picture by looking at it. The personality of the child
comes through their work.
WHEN WE EXERCISE CREATIVITY WE REVEAL WHO WE ARE AND MANY TIMES, WE
fiND OUT WHO WE ARE. Whenever I feel a deep restless in my soul I sit down
and begin writing. There have been times that I couldn't pinpoint the source
of my internal struggle until I began to write. Other people doodle on
a sketchpad or go into the kitchen and start cooking. For others, they
have to go into their garden to work out their angst, or in the darkroom
or wood shop. There is something about the act of creating that helps us
synchronize our souls and regain our personal equilibrium.
The very act of creating brings satisfaction, but the ultimate satisfaction
for me comes in the final stage of the creative process, admiring the finished
work. Often times it is like holding a mirror up to my soul. Oh, I know
that to a creative person, the work is never finished. A craftsman's eyes
immediately go to the places where he made a mistake. Every time I read
one of my books, I find grammatical errors. But when I'm able to set aside
my perfectionism, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Throughout the
creation narrative in Genesis, God pauses from his work to pronounce it
good or very good. It was good, because it reflected His character.
WHY ARE WE DRIVEN TO CREATE? THAT'S EASY, WE TAKE AFTER OUR FATHER.
Our Father, when He created us, instilled in us the need to create and
innovate. He did not tell Adam to kick back and enjoy the garden he created
for him, instead he told him to get busy-to create names for the animals
and tend to the garden.
God's creative process never ceases; He does not tire or become weary.
Isaiah 40:28 says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting
God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary
or tired. (NASB)
There is a difference in what we create and what God creates. For one,
we do grow tired and weary, but more importantly, God created the universe
out of nothing, we create things out of something. Because of that, THE
THINGS WE CREATE REVEAL OUR FATHER.
Earlier I mentioned a deacon's bench that my father made. I learned
something about it several years ago while visiting my grandfather before
he died. In his living room were several pieces of furniture that he'd
made. They had the same straightforward character, the same straight lines
and symmetrical curves as my father's furniture. As I think about the similarities,
I could explain them away by saying my grandfather taught my Dad how to
do carpentry work, but that wouldn't be a full explanation. Because he
taught him more than that, he also taught him how to be a man, and those
lessons show through in the things Dad creates.
If we show who we are and who our Father is by the things that we create,
then is expressing our creativity one way we shine the light in a dark
According to McManus, "Our goal at Mosaic is not to be relevant ultimately,
but to cause culture to be off-balanced, to usher in the future. To cause
artistic people to say wait a minute, 'where is this new way of expressing
artistic creativity coming from?'" He continues, "One of the greatest ways
to witness the message of Christ is to get so close to the creator God
that we literally pave the way of creativity and cause people to examine
who Christ is."
Christians have spent years using words to communicate truth to the
world-a noble thing. But some people aren't word people; they prefer the
"picture" to the thousand words. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Go into all
the world and preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words."
I believe it is necessary to use words, but those words can be creative
expressions-works of fiction, or real-life stories that carry truth. Works
like the book of Esther that never overtly mention God, yet clearly reveal
Him on every page.
I also believe it isn't always necessary to use words. We can reveal
the creator with song, dance, sculptures and on the canvas. Whatever you
medium is, I encourage you to create. As you create, you will get in touch
with who you are and reveal who your Father is.
Get creative, Christians-get creative, because when you do, you let
your light shine in a world that needs the light.
This sermon series is based upon my new book, Future
Church: Ministry in a Post-Seeker Age.