To the Christian, to the creative.
You are loved by God and your work is eternally significant. Through your hands and pens and computers and tools and voices, the glory of God is shown throughout the world.
Creative Work & the Spirit & Glory of God
From the dawn of time until the days of Moses, not much was known about Yahweh, the god of Israel, the God of the universe. We broke fellowship with him and for generations there was mostly silence.
But the people of God knew that they could pray, and God would hear (cf Exodus 2:23-24). And God came down to deliver them and instruct them and to dwell among them–this is the book of Exodus.
In Exodus, God’s presence is more visible and awesome than nearly any other place in the Bible. Then in the middle God says to Moses:
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
~ Exodus 25:8-9 ESV
God created the universe with his word. He delivered Israel with his power. He wrote his law with his own hand. But when it comes to his dwelling place among his people, he wants that built by human hands. He wants that made by artists and artisans. This is a task far too amazing for anyone to take on—to build the dwelling place of God with their own hands. If they could do that, then maybe they should worship the works of their own hands. Because maybe God needs their hands. But here’s what God says at the beginning of the 31st chapter.
See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God in skill, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work with gold, with silver, and with bronze, and with cutting and setting stone, and with cutting wood, to work in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have also given him Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, and I have given ability to all the specially skilled, that they may make everything I have commanded you
~ Exodus 31:2-6 ESV
So they worked with their hands, but it wasn’t their hands that were working. They worked with their minds and skills, but it wasn’t their minds and skills that were doing the work. God had filled them and enabled them and chose them.
So they worked. They collaborated. They sourced materials. They created. They cut. They sculpted. They engineered. They built. They did things beyond their abilities, because God was working in them.
Tweet This: They did things beyond their abilities, because God was working in them. @jos_sim @asworship
Then God came down.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
~ Exodus 40:34-35 ESV
Moses talked to God in a burning bush. He talked to God on the mountain when everyone else was too terrified of God’s glory (Exodus 20:18-21). He spoke with God the way a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). But when God came down in glory to the house that the creatives among his people built, not even Moses could stand in his glory. The art of the people, the creativity of the people was for the glory of God. God worked in them, and God came down.
From that point, for over 1200 years, people would be reminded everyday to look forward to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the places, tools, clothing, and furniture that were made. Through the priesthood and sacrificial system people were reminded, they were shown that God hears and God loves and God forgives and God calls a people to himself. That was facilitated by the art, buildings, tools and furniture that the artists and artisans created.
Then, after over 1200 years, God came down again–in the form of Jesus Christ. The perfect priest, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect lover, the perfect forgiver. Then he left. But he said to go tell the world, go show them, go remind them. And he gave us the Spirit of God, the same spirit that was given to Bezalel, Oholiab and the specially skilled. For his glory.
The Value & Eternity of Creative Work
This is all to say that creating is important. Art and science and technology are important. Exodus 25-31:11 are instructions written to artists, artisans and people who knew how to use technology and manage projects to create. And Exodus 35:30-40:33 is written about their creating. Usually sections like these, I skim over because they seem dull. But I encourage you to read the last half of Exodus from the perspective of a creative, or project manager, who is being tasked by God to create. It becomes much more exciting if you do.
Tweet This: Read the last half of Exodus from the perspective of a creative, or project manager, tasked by God to Create. @jos_sim
Unlike pastors, prophets, and the like, creative work is one of the pure vocations.
Tweet This: Unlike pastors, prophets, and the like, creative work is one of the pure vocations. @jos_sim @asworship
By that I mean, if there was no sin and if we had perfect knowledge of and fellowship with God, there would still be creatives. There are only pastors because there are sinners, there are only prophets because we aren’t in perfect fellowship with God. There are creatives because we are made in the image of God and God is creative. In heaven there will be no pastors or prophets, but there will be art and technology, there will be creatives.
Tweet This: In heaven there won’t be pastors or prophets, but there will be art and technology, there will be creatives. @jos_sim @asworship
In the Garden of Eden, mankind was given a command to do something before being given a command to not do something.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
~ Genesis 1:27-28 ESV
God commands mankind to be creators and fill the earth with our creations. On the one hand, this is by sexual reproduction. On the other hand, this is by going throughout all the earth and making art and science and technologies and societies and governments. In a perfect world, this is how the knowledge of the glory of God would fill the earth like the waters cover the sea. In an imperfect world, this is how perversion, injustice, and death fill the earth.
But we are of the redeemed. So when we create, we do not have to propagate perversion, injustice, and death. We can create for righteousness, justice, and life. We can create for the glory of God.
The Need for More Creative Work
I’m writing this because there are a lot of creative people on this earth. And there’s a lot of perversion, injustice, and death, there’s a lot of not glorifying God on this earth. And however much has been created for righteousness, justice, and life, however much has been created for the glory of God on the earth, it’s not enough. It is not enough because the knowledge of the glory of God has not yet filled the earth as the waters cover the sea. It’s not enough because there are still people who have yet to hear of the name Jesus Christ and his gospel. It’s not enough, not because God needs us, but because he’s worthy of still more worship.
There needs to be more. There needs to be more creatives working together to create things for the glory of God and for the good of people. Personally, I work in technology and I know there’s so very much that can be done–it’s breathtaking. If only we, the Church, would come together to labor in this creative work with one another.
But this isn’t merely about technology. This is about art, design, craftsmanship, music, dance, acting, technology, woodwork, entrepreneurship, filmmaking, writing, painting, product development and more. This is about whatever your hands find to do. Use your hands for the glory of God, and come together with the Church of God to work.
What You Can Do & What’s Happening
As a creative, creating for the glory of God may look like a million different things. But two things it will look like is developing habits and participating with Christian community.
There are many worthwhile habits, but here are three key ones to develop:
- Praying for your creative work
- Creating things guided by scripture
- Making the act of creating a more worshipful experience
Here are three ways to participate with Christian community:
- Examining scripture and praying with other creatives
- Creating something guided by scripture with other people
- Living on mission with other Christians through creative works
I live in Austin and here I’m seeing more and more things happen for community among Christian creatives. Missional community among creatives is being formed and growing; Christian curriculum for creatives is being written; there’s a regular meet up of Christian designers, technologists & entrepreneurs; there will be a hackathon for Christian artists & technologists this fall; the 7 in 7 challenge is expanding its types of creative participants.
These are some examples of what’s happening in one city, and what could happen in your city.
If you’re a creative and you believe that the King of the universe came down to pursue sinners, not as a warrior but as a lover pursues. If you believe that there’s power in the gospel of Jesus Christ, then start something. Start doing one of the things in the list above before leaving this page. Start talking to your creative friends about starting a missional community that creates. Sign up for the hackathon and invite friends, create something together.
The Church is coming together, to create. Join. Remember, you are a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, glorify God with the works of your hands.