Theology 101

The Call To Creativity

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The Call to Creativity

I love the scenes in the original Star Wars films that show Hans Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, jumping into hyperspace. There is a flash of light, a burst of acceleration, and the ship is suddenly light years away from where it took off.

The evangelical church needs this burst of light, this thrust forward, regarding how it views cultural transformation.

The church’s emphasis has, for far too long, been only on personal salvation. Personal salvation is important, but we have wrongly neglected the larger implications of the gospel.

If we are to radically influence our culture and make a positive difference in our communities, our cities, our country, and our world for the glory of God and his kingdom, we need to recover a broader vision of what the gospel means for all of life.

We need a new perspective on creation and creativity that gives vision and guidance to our work and actions.

The Cultural Mandate to Creativity

God gave each of us creativity to use in the areas of life he has called us to work within. What is the biblical basis for this creativity, and how are we to use it? Understanding the connection between the Great Commission in Matthew 28: 18-20 and the Cultural Mandate found in Genesis 1:26-28 is helpful in answering these questions.

In the Great Commission, Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that he has commanded us to carry out. The evangelical church focuses more on evangelizing and baptizing, without providing the context for the gospel that makes it so stunning: God wants to redeem the whole of creation and we can participate in that restoration. 

The Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate together provide this essential context for the gospel. My colleague Hugh Whelchel writes in “How Then Should We Work” that,

A strong argument can be made that Jesus’ Great Commission is a restatement of the Cultural Mandate for his church…it is clear that both call for cultural renewal.

How is this so? Think about what comprises discipleship. Discipleship involves:

  • Knowing the nature of our personal salvation, AND
  • Grasping the implications of that salvation for our private and public lives.

The Cultural Mandate is the starting point for understanding these aspects of discipleship, for it tells us the purpose for which we were created. It tells us that:

  • We were made, male and female, in the image of God in order to use our creativity to develop the potential of the creation around us.
  • God equipped each of us with dignity, uniqueness, and different tasks to collectively carry out this mandate.

Genesis 1:26-28 has been called the Cultural Mandate because it shows the place of human beings in creation. It also calls us to work with God’s creation. Think of all the activities we do that involve the stewarding of God’s created order: we rule over, order, classify, reshape, develop, and unfold the potential of the world around us.

Here is the command itself, from Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over everything that moves on earth.

This is the basis for our call to creativity. It tells us who we are – people created in the image of God, endowed with creativity – so that we might go forth and carry out our calling.

But what if  you don’t believe you have any creativity to offer? How can you carry out this mandate? I’ll answer that question in my next post on the church’s call to creativity.

What to you think? Does your church preach a holistic perspective of the gospel and its implications for life and work?

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