The Maker and His Co-Creators

This article is by Anna Mondal and published by BCC

 

As a kid, I loved making things: normal things like mud pies and daisy chains—and weird things like paintbrushes made from twigs and dog hair. Naturally, as I learned about God, I wanted to make Him something. Based on the Bible smarts of a five-year-old, I knew that He was big and that He (or at least Jesus) was a man. So, I strung together all my blue and green beads into a giant ring—hopefully big enough to fit His pinkie finger. In a childlike act of worship, I made a gift for God.

But as I grew up, I adopted a more serious, cerebral approach to worship. I imagined God was more pleased by Trappist monk-style devotions at four in the morning than He was by my ring-making, zany storytelling, or chutzpah with chores. Sure, I could follow Brother Lawrence and practice God’s presence while shredding carrots. But He probably wasn’t interested in my making orange rosettes from the peelings.

What about you? What parts of your work and worship do you think God is most delighted by? In this post, we’ll explore creative making as a pathway into worship.

God Is a Maker

In the opening pages of Genesis, we see God as a Maker (Gen. 1-2). These first two chapters are full of artistry language: God creates the heavens and earth, makes the celestial lights, forms humankind, etc. He self-discloses by creating beauty and speaking words that spark life. Internationally renowned painter Makoto Fujimura writes, “God the Artist communicates to us first, before God the lecturer.”[1]

The creation account doesn’t read like a cosmic Industrial Revolution, with God churning out an assembly line of uniform, utilitarian products. He doesn’t create living things because we are useful; He doesn’t need a horde of minions to do His bidding. Instead, Genesis shows us a Creator of generative, abundant love. He delights in Himself, and in the very-goodness of humankind, His “greatest art piece.”[2] In her children’s book, Love Made, Quina Aragon puts it beautifully:

“Can you imagine the happiness God felt to see all that He made out of love, not out of need? The Father loving the Son and the Son right back, the Spirit rejoicing in it all…and Love loved so much that Love made us.”[3]

God’s artistry doesn’t stop there. He still nourishes the universe, daily “re-creating” sunrises and season changes (Gen. 8:22; Acts 14:17; Heb. 1:3). He is a wonderful Maker who weaves new humans together (Ps. 139:13-15). He is a potter, skillfully shaping His people (Jer. 18:1-6). He is like a refiner of precious metals, purifying His own like silver and gold (Mal. 3:3). He is a painter whose children are His masterpieces (Eph. 2:10). He is the architect and builder of a beautiful city where everything becomes new (Heb. 11:10, 16; Rev. 21:5, 10-23). And Jesus, our God-in-flesh, worked almost His whole life as an artisan. Even in formal ministry, Christ was creative: He didn’t “explain or lecture about the truth, but instead [told] creative stories that embodied and depicted the truth and left people with something more…to imagine.”[4]

Creativity is a part of God’s glorious nature. He doesn’t snub skillful works of art or their makers. He doesn’t see painting or poetry or dance as unspiritual wastes of time. Rather,  He is the first Artist, the Maker whose Spirit inspires us to create (Ex. 31:2-11). In God’s world, “the beautiful is as useful as the useful…perhaps more so.”[5]

God Made You To Make

One of my friends is an expert flower gardener, and her sprawling lawn is a sensory feast. She knows the art of plotting colors and planting bulbs and the alchemy of soil and sunlight. Gardening helps her slow down and meditate on Jesus’ parables about seeds, wildflowers, and death before new life (Matt. 6:25-34; Mark 4:1-20; John 12:24). Making an intentionally lavish garden is part of the way she delights in her Creator.

Another friend writes brilliant poetry. He’s had a painful life and knows well the crucible of suffering. He worships God with words—he laments, wrestles, and quiets his heart (see Psalm 42-43, 88, 131). When he praises Jesus, he uses language that comes from an artisan soul who has spent hours shaping thoughts and scribbling in the dark. His wordcraft is a way he engages God.

You may or may not think of yourself as an artistic person. But you are a maker—you were designed to create and to do simple, ordinary acts with attentive love. Whether you build Adirondack chairs or tell imaginative bedtime stories or make nourishing, nutrient-dense meals, you are drawing on the image of our Creative God. Considering her roles as a writer and a mother, Madeleine L’Engle writes,

“All of us who have given birth to a baby, to a story, know that it is ultimately mystery, closely knit to God’s own creative activities which did not stop at the beginning of the universe. God is constantly creating, in us, through us, with us, and to co-create with God is our human calling.”[6]

In Christ, you are a co-creator—you are invited to participate. You are made to do generative acts of goodness (Eph. 2:10). Creativity isn’t confined to an elite few—we can all be part of meaningful making that brings God glory and delight.[7]

Art/Work Made for God’s Glory Is Forever

In his exquisite book, Art + Faith, Makoto Fujimura asks us to imagine a small child building a sandcastle at the beach.[8] He is small and creating small things, but making them as beautifully and intentionally as possible. The child’s father, an architect, sees this sandcastle and is so delighted and amazed by it that he builds an actual castle modeled after its design.

“This may be close to what the New Creation will be like. God desires…to be with the child as the child plays on this side of eternity…There is no particular need for the architect father to create an actual building, but the father re-creates in love, and he has the power to do so. The New Creation is filled with such attentive, self-giving outworking of God’s love for us.”[9]

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