What drives creativity? When we seek to communicate the motivation behind art, we often use the language of inspiration. For example, an artist may be asked, “What inspired you to write that song?” If particularly poignant, the piece itself may be deemed inspired. This term carries with it the connotation of being motivated by the Spirit of God and is actually used to describe Scripture itself. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (NLT). (In the original language, Scripture is “God-breathed,” and the Bible has a divine authority no other act of human creation can equal.) The best-selling book in history, God’s Word, was inspired by God’s Spirit, and it continues to inspire the re-creation of God’s people. What then can Scripture teach us about what compels creativity?
Throughout Scripture, Spirit and creation can be seen dancing together like dandelion seeds whirling on the wind. According to the creation account in Genesis 1, God’s Spirit was fluttering over the watery chaos calling forth creation and life. Then in Genesis 2 after God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, God breathed His Spirit into Adam’s lungs, thus bringing His creation to life. In the New Testament when God instituted the Church, the Spirit descended upon the believers like the sound of a violent wind and as visible tongues of fire, transforming the huddled and fearful mass into the bold evangelists who would give their lives to make Christ known.
The elegant exchange between Spirit and creation permeates the biblical narrative. This dance is observed not only when God creates but also in human creativity. Following Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, God invited Moses to call upon artisans to erect a tent where God’s Spirit could dwell at the center of His people. For the creation of the tabernacle, God commissioned the most skilled craftsmen in all of Israel to offer their best creative efforts. In Exodus 31:1-5 it is written:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.”
God filled Bezalel with His Spirit so that he would assist with the creation of the tabernacle which God would in turn fill with His Spirit. The Spirit commissions, the individual
creates, the Spirit fills. Quite an elegant dance when God is at the center! For those in Christ, the origin of any creative endeavor emanates from God’s Spirit—beginning to end.
Why does God inspire or motivate human creativity? Our cue can be taken once again from His own creativity. The Christian Scriptures are unique among sacred texts in revealing God’s defining characteristic as His love. Creation bursts forth from the overflow of God’s love like a geyser erupts from the surface of the earth. As it is with divine creativity, God inspires human creativity for the sake of His love. It is through beauty and symbolism that God reveals a love so transcendent that we can behold it only in part. Whether it is Handel’s Messiah or the artwork hanging in our own gallery, God uses Spirit-inspired pieces for the ongoing stimulation, transformation, re-creation, and restoration of His people.
Perhaps this puts language to the song playing beneath your experience of worship. Especially around Christmas and Easter, with the full choir, organ, and orchestra enveloping the worshiper in a symphony of sound, one cannot help but be caught up in an overwhelming sense of the glory, grandeur, and greatness of our God. With God at the center of our worship, we offer our inspired creative gifts and get a glimpse, albeit dimly, of that which is taking place now in heaven; we can hear the faint humming of a tune that we will someday join in singing. This is the dance of Spirit and creativity.
What are the hidden creative gifts which God might summon to reveal His love through you? Painting? Photography? Music? Dance? Leadership? There is art to be found in all human life. When we steward our creative gifts, we allow God to inspire their use for His continuing re-creation in the world. God’s people are transformed as we partner in the dance that the Spirit has been leading since the foundation of the world. How might God be calling you to have this dance? How will you respond?
by Pastor Brad Rogers