March 25, 2017

And God Said, ‘You Shall Be Creative’

Rochelle Melville

Creativity is largely misunderstood, under-utilized, trivialized and—quite frankly—it often gets ignored altogether. I believe that creativity powerfully displays God’s character perfectly. I also believe unexpressed creativity denies God.

In order to understand creativity, it is helpful to have a working definition. Creativity has been described as the use of original thoughts to bring something new into being; transcending traditions, rules, patterns and relationships and creating meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations; generating solutions; originality, progressiveness, or imagination; it is perceiving the world in new ways.

Many of us would agree strongly that human beings are innately designed to think beyond themselves and now. Neuroscience confirms our brain’s complexity and ability. For example, a piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other. This leads some of us daring to believe and imagine the possibility of, well, anything and everything being possible.

The author, with one of her artistic creations. [Photo: Rochelle Melville]

Thinking outside the square, also known as creativity, aligns perfectly with the wonder of God’s character and essence. Creativity suggests mystery and power; in a raw and primal way, it points us back to the beginning, back to a Creator God Who knelt in the mud and, with bare hands, fashioned a man who had a family resemblance.

After Adam and Eve were handcrafted and the breath of God gave them life, humankind was declared to be created in the Creator’s image. God left His fingerprints throughout the entire earth that now encapsulates and highlights His creativity; stars and auroras, flowers and down feathers, pinnacles and plunging waterfalls.

Later in history, the incarnate Jesus reminded humankind of our call to live an abundant life. He declared that mustard seed faith is enough and that supernatural power and discernment is available to one and all. He challenged traditions and demonstrated what disruptive love looks like. What if the life of Jesus is a glimpse of what creativity looks like? What if creativity is having an awareness of God and then responding in thoughts, actions or words? What if this fresh view of creativity is the first step to unleashing our creativity?

So my question is: What if we’re not called and anointed as creative beings because of our talents and skills? What if that raw and primal urge to creativity is a calling and anointing to worship because creativity in its highest form, is worship?

Creativity is not a thing, it is a way.

What if creativity expressed is humanity’s quiet but inadequate applause for the creation performed by God? What might happen in our churches, schools and homes if we gave ourselves permission to give our creativity back to God 100 percent? What if we stopped apologizing for our creativity and allowed the Holy Spirit to saturate us fully so we overflowed with innovative thinking and artistic expressions?

Let us not limit creativity to songs, stories and paintings. Focusing on the end-product of creativity such as a melody or the finished quilt leaves us bereft of honouring the creative journey and the role the Holy Spirit has. When we focus on creativity as a spiritual process rather than product, creativity becomes accessible to anyone. And since we are all created in His image we all should encourage one another to fully express worship in creative ways. To disallow creativity is to refuse God full access to oneself. To surrender partially to God is not surrender. No one gets partially married or partially born—it’s all or none.

Never has my spiritual growth been fuller or more meaningful than when I use symbolic expressions in the creative arts to worship. Creativity has been both healing and transformative. I have been challenged and chastised, encouraged beyond measure and found God’s love to be deeper and more vivid than I could have imagined were possible this side of heaven.

I want to challenge you to set aside preconceptions about creativity you may have and allow God to reveal Himself to you through creativity. Creativity is not a thing, it is a way.

Rochelle Melville is an artist and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Queensland Conference. This commentary was first published in South Queensland Conference Focus, February 2017