At Work & Theology 101

The Call to Creativity: What’s Dignity Got to Do With It?

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I’m useless. I don’t have any gifts or talents to offer.

This is what one woman told me during a vocational profile I conducted with her. Many people feel the same way. We have lost our sense of dignity and self-worth. As a result, we are blind to our own inherent creativity and God-given talents.

If we fail to see and believe in the dignity of ourselves and every human being, we will struggle to contribute to the call to creativity.

Dignity

Being made in the image of God, we have a worth, value, and dignity that cannot be taken away from us.

Genesis 1:26-28 reiterates that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (emphasis added):

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image according to our likeness…And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

James 3:9 rebukes those who worship God with their mouths and yet curse someone else made in the likeness of God:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

What hypocrisy! What failure to see the connection between the worthiness of God and cursing his image.

C.S. Lewis maintains in The Weight of Glory that,

There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, they are to our life as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

Lewis lived out this idea that “there are no ordinary people” by writing personal, handwritten letters to everyone who wrote to him, by giving away all his royalties, honoraria, and half his meager salary.

The evangelical church has yet to fully mine the implications of the image of God for personal and public life. The dignity, worth, and value of every human being – including yourself – is more than you presently know.

Once we understand our own dignity and worth, we can begin to see how we are equipped to answer the call to creativity.

Creativity

We, as image bearers of God, are given a central task in answering the call to creativity. We are told in Genesis 1:26-28 to “rule over” creation. God is the king, but we are his vice-regents. He is the creator, but we are sub-creators. While only God can create something out of nothing, we can create something from something – and are called to this creative task.

“Sub-creators” was the favorite term of J.R.R. Tolkien and Francis Schaeffer, but other scholars use the term “co-creators,” indicating that we participate with God in creative acts.

The kind of rulership or dominion we are to exercise is not to be heavy-handed. Atheists and New Age adherents sometimes say this call to dominion has given Christians the right to rape and pillage the earth.

Genesis 2:15 indicates the contrary:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Mankind was placed in the Garden to care for and keep it. The mandate is to exercise caring stewardship over the created realm – NOT to use and abuse it as we please.

Creativity plays a central role in developing a beautiful and productive garden, metaphorically speaking, in our own lives and cultures and requires fresh, inspired thinking.

The call to creativity carries on even after our fall into sin. God’s purpose is, through human creativity, to move from the Garden to a City. Human gifts and creativity are to be expressed in building increasingly complex houses, buildings, walls, roads, etc. Genesis starts in a garden, but Revelation ends in a city.

Here’s an illustration of this concept:

The Tree of Life from Genesis reappears in the Holy City found in Revelation 22:1-2. The setting is no longer pastoral, but urban. This is what we are made to do – use our creativity, our gifts, and our abilities to develop the potential of the created order.

What do you think? What is your perception of your dignity and worth? How does that affect how you answer the call to creativity? Leave your comments here.

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