// towards a theology of creativity

I’ve written a few times on this blog about my recently rediscovered love of cooking, but the sheer joy that it brings still surprises me on a fairly regular basis. Partly, I think, it’s the experience of experimenting with flavours and tweaking recipes; partly it’s down to the process of chopping, peeling etc. that is completely unlike just about everything else that I do during the week; and partly it’s down to the fact that it serves as a powerful reminder of what has been given, and the fact that what God has given us is truly good.

But what is consistently the most startling is the way in which something that seems fundamentally mundane and everyday – just another household task – ends up being a testimony to life with God. That wasn’t my aim when I started, and it’s not even like I set out to cook for the glory of God; and yet, in spite of itself, the act of creation tells of Him regardless…

Eugene Peterson has recently written brilliantly on how “we need friends who are capable of hearing the Holy Spirit’s whispers in what we are saying – and sometimes between the lines in what we’re not saying”, and he’s got a point. Maybe when we’re wrapped up in our day-to-day life we don’t notice the way in which that life testifies to God at work, but it pays to be around the people who do notice it. Not to mention to try to turn ourselves into people who do.
Peterson also wrote of his interest

in cultivating the fundamentally holy nature of all language, including most definitely the casual, spontaneous, unselfconscious, conversational language that occurs when we’re sitting in a rocking-chair before a fireplace on a wintry day, strolling on a beach, or having coffee in a diner – conversations while we’re walking through Samaria…

In discerning the voice of God in the conversations that we engage in when we are not intentionally thinking “God”.

Our conversations, our personalities and interests, directly reflect the fact that we are made in the image of God. Our use of language, our ways of making sense of the world, those are a testimony to a God who created us and gave us the capacity for comprehension…

The God who spoke creation into existence with a word is a creative God; and as a people made in His image, we too have that creativity hard-wired into us. We are called to be a people who, even in our daily lives, are constantly examining the world and restating the truths that are continually evident about God in ways that are accessible and communicable – whatever that is, whether that be songwriting, painting, poetry, journaling, cooking, writing fiction or any number of other things.

If we are seeking God’s glory then, even if we are not writing directly about Him, then there is something holy both about the process – and the creation.

That process of creativity is something very different to over-analysis, though, and that’s a distinction worth making. C.S. Lewis once claimed that “as thinkers, we are cut off from what we think about; as tasting, touching, willing, loving, hating, we do not clearly understand. The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off… You cannot study pleasure in the moment of the nuptial embrace, nor repentance while repenting, not analyse the nature of humour while roaring with laughter.”

We talk about engaging with the world and, although that may eventually include an analysis that points back to God, it starts with awe at what has been given – and the giver Himself. Analysis, most often, can come later, in our times of meditation and reflection; revelation, experience and engagement must come first.

But this is a revelation that is fantastically liberating, too. So, in my last post I was talking about Christianity as a state of being – a total change of nature, what Paul talked about when he claimed that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

And if, in our very being, we are already made holy by Christ’s death on the cross, and if we are coming to believe and act in accordance with that more each day, then how incredible will both that act of creation (not to mention the thing created) be?

So why not join me in pursuing that God-given creativity – in seeking to create and express and converse with eyes open, in order to see what God is saying both in our conversations and through the lives of all His people.

I’m excited already…

  1. I found this a really fascinating post, definitely something to chew over and consider seriously – but not over-analyse!

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