In God’s image : creativity

My friend Frank MacDougall is the CTO and co-founder of GestureTek, a pioneer in camera-enabled gesture-recognition technology for presentation and entertainment systems.   To develop this new technology he had to be a visionary – he had to be able to imagine something that did not currently exist, that he could not see, feel or touch, and then bring it into being.

I am currently reading Stone of Farewell, a fantasy novel by Tad Williams.   One of the things I love about the book is its vivid descriptions of a world that is entirely imaginary.   To write this series of novels, the author had to conceive a universe that no-one but the readers of his books would ever see, then breathe life into it with his words.

My wife Marion tutors children who have trouble learning.  Part of her task is to help them to see themselves differently.  She has to be able to see potential that they might not see in themselves, convince them that they do indeed have this potential, then motivate them to make it a reality.

Creativity – it’s part of what makes us human, part of what it means to be made in the image of God.  Although animals display varying degrees of intelligence and skill, they do not appear to possess this ability to imagine a complex reality that never existed, and then bring it into being.  Alone on the earth, humans possess this attribute of creativity in abundance.

Of course, there is a basic difference between God’s creativity and ours.  We work with materials and potentialities that are provided to us in the already-created world into which we are born.  God started from nothing.

Another difference between God’s creativity and ours is that our human creative capacities can be used for good or for evil.  Along with great works of art, music, medical breakthroughs, and various other beneficial discoveries, under the influence of the Evil One our race has also spawned computer viruses, concentration camps, and torture chambers.

What God creates, on the other hand, is always good.   It’s true that God’s creation has been marred by sin and suffering – but that was not His original intent or plan.  All manner of misery can be traced back to the malicious thief who has invaded God’s world to steal, kill and destroy what God has made.  But that’s not the end of the story!   The great rebellion set the stage for God’s most creative act.

When my son was a little boy, he would bring me a broken toy and say “Daddy, fix it”.  And this is what our God has done with the gift of creativity that He originally imparted to us.   When our first parents chose independence and went their own way, choosing to resist God’s influence, gradually our creativity became corrupted and all manner of evil began to emerge.   But just when things were at their worst and all hope seemed lost, God sent His Son – the perfect reflection of His goodness and glory – to initiate a new beginning on planet Earth, a new creation.

As a result, those who live under Jesus’ Lordship are promised that one day His image in us will be fully restored and we will be like Him.   I am so grateful that God is able to fix what we have messed up – and not only fix it, but work even our mistakes and sins into His redemptive pattern, so that the end result incorporates what we did and looks even better than it would have if we had never gotten involved.   We see this supremely in the cross – an instrument of the worst kind of evil, yet chosen and used by God for His good purposes and made into the means of our redemption.

The great apostle Paul said it best ( Romans 11:33-36 ) :

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.