Posted by: Brian Musser | June 29, 2012

Created in the Image of the Creator to Create

There is a world on the Plains of Janapian which only exists in my head and a stack of papers in my office.  This world has characters and plots and history and meaning.  It is merely a story.  It is fiction.  It isn’t “real.”  But my enjoyment of it is real.  I love the fact that I have created something.  I love that without me the Plains of Janapian would have never existed.  I love in my spare time shaping it and molding it, trying to form the characters into the images I have for them.  I love the fact that it is solely and completely mine.  No one else owns it.  No one else has the right to alter it in any way.  Even if they did, I would just erase it and set things back to the way they were.

Creating a world from my imagination has brought me joy through the years.  I remember reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ainulindalë (contained within The Silmarillion) which his account of the creation of Middle Earth as seen in The Lord of the Rings.  Tolkien depicts the creation of Middle Earth as the Ainur (comparable to angels) creating a symphony that Eru (God) turns into a reality.  It causes me to think about the similarities and differences between the creative processes of God in creating our world and those used by the creativity of humanity.

A God Who Creates

We have been created by God.  We are created in the image of God.  But why?  In the previous post (God’s Work as the Model for Our Work) we started to examine the immediate connection in Genesis 1 between being created in God’s image and being assigned tasks to accomplish.  We concluded that we are created in God’s image to work.  And as we work we can display God’s image.  We can look like God through our work.  God can be glorified as we work.   I left us with the notion that examining how God works as revealed in Scripture will help us with understanding our own work, and ultimately understanding how we can look like God as we work.  So today we are going to begin an extended journey of looking at how God works and trying to gleam key ideas that can be applied to our work.

As we open Scriptures we see in the very first verse a God who creates. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Then throughout the rest of Scripture it is never far from the surface that God has created all there is.  God as the creator is foundational to Christianity.  It is one of our givens.  It is one of our core assumptions.  (I have no interest at this time to discuss scientific and philosophical points about how God created.  That is outside the scope of this post.)  As a foundational presupposition, I wonder do we ever really think about it.  Often our assumptions are left unevaluated.  Let us take a moment to examine God’s creation of the universe as work.

In a previous post (A Godly Definition of Work) we created a definition of work.

Work is the intentional use of a person’s energy (mental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual) to accomplish a specific change.

In creating, God decided to use wisdom, knowledge and power to bring into being things that had not existed before.  Creation as work requires imagination.  God needed to be able to think about things that did not exist.  Creation requires wisdom and knowledge.  God needed to be able to think through how things should be.   God needed to be able to understand the best way to bring about the desired changes.  Creation requires power.  God needed to be able to bring about the imagined future.  Creation requires a will.  God needed to decide to do it instead of just think it.  With God’s infinite resource of wisdom, knowledge and power no portion of the creative process was difficult for God but it was still work.

Our Creating

As we look at our own creative work we can see what we need to get it done.  We need imagination.  We need to be able to see things that are not there.  We need wisdom to figure out what is the best way to bring about our desired change.  We need knowledge to know how to get it done.  We need power to be able to achieve the change.  And we need the will to act. 

Using the preceding definition, when was the last time you did something creative?  It may be much more recent than you expect.  Often we only think of creativity within the artistic disciplines, but I have seen creativity thrive among business professionals and research scientists.  I remember working on crew that took care of people’s lawns for them.  We had one individual on the crew that could walk into a yard and just “see” the quickest and most efficient way to mow that lawn.  His experience had given him the knowledge and wisdom to create the best way to get that task done.  I’m sure he never saw that moment as a particularly creative experience but it was and our entire crew benefitted from his ability to be creative.

I encourage you to think through how creativity is already present within your work.  Realize that as you are being creative.  You are working in a fashion that is similar to God.  You are creating like God creates.  The image of God is on display in you as you work.  Your use of creativity in your work can bring glory to God.  Do not allow that opportunity to glorify God to pass unnoticed.

However; there are ways that our creating will never be like God’s creating.  Because God’s wisdom, knowledge and power are infinite, God is working with resources that we just do not have.  God creates on a grander scale than we ever can.  God creates things flawlessly.  God knows exactly how to create things.  My drawings are never quite what I hoped them to be.  My poems never quite express every emotion I wanted them to.  My systems and processes never run effortlessly.  My creations are never quite exactly the way they are supposed to be.  This is not so with God.  God’s creations are only limited by the goodness of God’s own nature.  God can create anything that God so desires exactly the way God chooses.  The other significant difference between God’s creations and ours is that God can create out of nothing.  Our creation is only a unique manipulation of God’s previous creation.  Try to think of a color that does not exist.  Can you do it?  All the colors we have originated in the mind of God.  Our creation is completely dependent upon God’s previous creation.  God’s creation is only dependent upon God.

Enjoying Creation

Genesis 1:31a (HCSB) God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.

There is a joy that comes from creating.  There is a joy that comes from creating well.  I believe God experienced this when looking out upon the creation.  We can experience this when we take time to admire that which we have done.  For us our joy in our creative work can produce worship.  We have created.  We have accomplished something that we were designed to do.  Our obedience is worship.  We have been able to display the image of God in our lives through our work.  This is worship.  We can acknowledge our dependence upon God through our creativity because everything we create is reliant on God’s previous creation.  Acknowledging our dependence is worship.  We can glorify God through our work.  This is Work-Ship.

If you want to be kept up to date about posts on this topic you can subscribe to this blog or the specifically designated Work-Ship blog either via your WordPress account or through email.  You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook.  Next week I will be posting about God the sustainer and my experience as a janitor working in the image of God.

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