We begin this series, “Credo: What Christians Believe and Why,” with the most basic of our affirmations: “I believe in God.” Each affirmation of faith, in one way or another, affirms God as the source of all that is. And so, we begin this series at the beginning, with the book of Genesis:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.” — Genesis 1:1-3 RSV
In the first two chapters of Genesis we find some basic affirmations: God is the source of all. God brings order our of chaos. God creates human beings in God’s own image.
We’re all familiar with the phrase, “created in the image of God,” but have you ever considered what that means? As human beings we have many innate qualities that can be said to be “in God’s image” — self-awareness, understanding, and a sense of right and wrong, just to name a few. However, one of the most important aspects of our being created in God’s own image is that we are creators. The very image of God as creator is reflected in our own ability to create — our innate creativity. And, when you think about the things that make human beings distinctive, chief among these qualities it is the ability to imagine something and then bring it into existence — to create.
While it’s easy to think about God as creator, how easy is it for most of us to think of ourselves as creators? I hear people say all the time, “Oh, I’m not creative,” but the reality is that human creativity is much bigger broader than we may realize. Creativity goes way beyond artistic ability or musical genius — although those are certainly creative endeavors. Sometimes, we create in ways we may not recognize as creative: We create a life. We create experiences. We create institutions, organizations, companies, family vacations — even families themselves.
Whether we embrace it or not, we all have creative power. Out of our minds an idea emerges — and then we put that idea into motion in a way that allows it to grow to a whole new reality. Something that never before existed comes into existence. You are the creator of that new reality. Even in some of our most mundane actions we never consider to be expressions creativity, we create. We decorate our homes. We prepare meals. We plant flowers. We raise children. We start and build businesses that employ other people and provide for their families. And yes, we create art, architecture, furniture, clothing. Even the stained glass, wood carvings, and needlepoint in our Sanctuary all came out of the ability to create. Examples of human creativity surround us all day every day. We all routinely exercise this ability to bring into being something that did not exist before.
In addition to creating realities, sometimes on a remarkable scale — like a Pixar cartoon or even Harry Potter World at Universal Studio — human creativity is often expressed in creating solutions. From human creativity came the law, our financial systems, medicine, health care systems, educational systems, economics, the stock market — all came from the minds of human beings, working alone and together. And, because these creations work well enough for all of us to become a system we recognize, they bring order out of our human chaos with a construct we all buy into.
With all that our creativity allows us to accomplish, however, this powerful gift comes with the great responsibility of using our creativity wisely. When something we create becomes a monster that wreaks havoc and causes unintended consequences, we bear the responsibility for the damage our creation causes. Sometimes we must call upon our creativity again to clean up our messes. According to Genesis, God declared each thing created to be good — so we, too, carry the responsibility of making sure our creations are also good — and that what we create adds to life, enhances experience, solves problems, or relieves suffering. Being created in the image of God also means that we, too, are caretakers of creation — stewards of the earth and its environments and inhabitants.
This Sunday we’ll be thinking about what it means to affirm this belief in God as Creator — and how that belief informs our own creativity, whether we realize it or not. During our Sanctuary worship service at 9:30 and 11:00 am, we’ll have a unique experience of watching creativity unfold right before our eyes during worship as local artist and church member Dan Darr uses his own creative gifts to add a special dimension to our worship experience. I look forward to seeing you there!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster