Creativity: The First Christian Act

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There is nothing more needed in Christianity today than creativity.

We don’t need more doctrinal precision and biblical knowledge, more conferences and programs. We don’t need more cookie-cutter youth groups copied from the megachurch down the street. We don’t want to hear another worship song with the same beat, the same tempo, the same words, and the same three chords as every other worship song.

Christianity suffers from the pandemic disease of just copying each other in what we do, what we say, and how we look. As the world struggles with the ethical dilemmas of whether or not we should allow clones, Christianity should just be shrugging our shoulders; We’ve been making clones for hundreds of years, from the way our buildings look to the way our people look. Sure, there are “cooler” versions out there, but they still gather at the same old places at the same old times to do the same old things for the same old purposes.

When are we going to break out of the mold and do something that shocks, surprises, and amazes?

Let me back up and start from the beginning. The very beginning.

In the Beginning
Christianity must be creative because first and foremost, we follow a creative God. The very first act of God recorded in Scripture is creation. An eye-popping, universe-exploding, noisy, colorful, cacophony of creative power unleashed into darkness and chaos.

But when we see darkness and chaos all around us, all we can think of doing is gathering together in our huddled masses, circling the wagons, and praying for the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ who will ride in on His white stallion with thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fist, and cast down all our foes, restore peace and justice, and finally set all things right. Then He will rule and reign and wipe away every tear.

Doesn’t that sound great? Of course it does. But I sometimes Jesus is watching all this, shaking His head and saying, “What do they think I left them there for?”

And we cry out, “But what can we do? There are so few of us against the gathering storm! We are weak; they are strong! We are few; they are many!” Hmm, that sounds an awful lot like some cries I’ve heard out of Scripture in various places. I’ll let you find them on your own.

Jesus, I think, tells us the beginning place. The way to find the solution is not with refortifying our defenses, preaching longer, or singing louder. When chaos and darkness descend upon us, the first step toward light and order is creativity. This is what Jesus meant when He said that we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like little children.

Like a Child
One of the things that characterize little children is creativity. They do not think about what they can and cannot do. They do not tally the forces arrayed against them. They simply imagine another world, a place where people never die, where nobody goes hungry, and the lion literally lays down with the lamb. In their creative world, dreams become reality.

Does imagination make the dreams become reality? Of course not. It’s naive to think so. But this does not mean we should not creatively imagine. Without creative imagination, we will continue to tackle age-old problems with dreary and decaying solutions: “Bomb them!” “Tax that!” “Hoard this!” “Sell those!” “Gather the wagons! Get out the guns!”

There has to be a better way. A way of light and love, peace and unity, healing and service. A way of flexibility and freedom, wonder and imagination.

What is that way? Honestly, I don’t know. But we’ll never find it, until and unless we begin with creativity.

* * * * *

This blog post was part of a Synchroblog on Creation and Creativity. Here are the other contributors:

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Comments

  1. Kel says

    When chaos and darkness descend upon us, the first step toward light and order is creativity.

    love this line Jeremy, and your contribution to the synchroblog

    i also believe in nurturing creativity and childlikeness
    part of your story is also mine

    nice to meet you

  2. says

    YES! We need to dream again. … become like a little child… a rebirth of sorts. “… without vision the people perish” dream it, envision and set out to create.

    in a child’s world, lions lay down with lambs. awesome.

    • says

      It’s so hard to dream though, isn’t it? Especially when surrounded by the harsh reality of life and bills and marriage problems and sickness and death. Dreams get crushed.

  3. says

    At one point in history, Christianity served as the inspiration that was the driving force in art, music, architecture, literature, etc. At some point we lost this creative focus that helped to shape various cultures. Are Christians afraid to step out and be leaders in these fields or are we just to easily satisfied with the status quo?

    • says

      Fantastic questions. I see blips on the screen of a return to our creativity. The problem is that many Christians don’t like the creative solutions that other Christians are suggesting. And sometimes, our own government doesn’t like the ideas either. Thinking creatively sometimes challenges the powers that be.

  4. says

    the only thing I don’t like is that I wish I would have written it
    i’m joking…

    thank you Jeremy
    we need desperately to seek the Lord, and to ask for imagination

    I can only say amen.

  5. says

    Someone once said, speaking about evangelism, “When predictability is high, the impact is low. When predictability is low, the impact is high.”

    This doesn’t mean that we should squander our creativity trying to think up new gimmicks for evangelism, as so many do. Gimmickry is predictable.

    Your image of circling the wagons reminds me that there are two ways of looking at it (both military): the church as the Last Redoubt, or the church as the Liberated Zone. I prefer the latter — see The Church as the Liberated Zone | Khanya

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