Monday, April 25, 2016

Joy in Creating

Creativity has been extensively studied in humans young and old. Educators readily identify creativity in their students. It is a trait also admired by parents in their children. Employers encourage creativity in virtually all dimensions of their employee’s job performance. There is a relationship between creativity and skill in any professional performance. For example, the most skillful performers in the arts, athletics, sales, manufacturing, or information technology must search for creative solutions to their work-related challenges. Without creative approaches to their work activity, they become mired in tedium.

Achievement in any professional field depends on creativity. Imagination, innovation, and originality characterize creativity. To a large degree these traits may be applied even in mundane tasks. The most creative people achieve more joy in their occupational endeavors. On a human level we create daily, whether at work or tending to our houses and gardens.

Human creative ability has been gifted to humanity by the God of Creation. God initially produced the physical matter of the universe out of which he fashioned human life. The Imago Dei, the Image of God, has been defined by many theologians. The Image of God has been described by theologian Kenneth Samples as (1) being representative of the qualities of God, (2) having interpersonal relational qualities, and (3) possessing functional qualities. We focus on the meaning of functional qualities: What a human being does and how he performs certain functions is an example of the outworking of the Imago Dei.

Genesis clarifies the function of humanity in one of the first divine scriptural mandates: “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 and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:28 ESV). Also, “The Lord God took the man (Adam) and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” Gen. 2:15 (ESV). The first men and women on earth were instructed to care for the plants and plant products as well as the animals. Modern agriculturalists may identify with the overwhelming responsibility of caring for the plants and animals of the garden. We marvel at the creative responsibility of appropriately naming the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens.

In our sanctified imagination we may pose the possibility that the earliest humanity needed creativity in unimaginable ways in order to exercise dominion over the plants and animals of the earth and to use them effectively to supply mankind’s physical needs. If his tending of the plants and animals occurred before the dreadful effects of “the Fall,” we speculate that “working and keeping” the garden and its environs was an unbridled creative joy experience. Even if the effects of sin had already been established after an unknown time period, humanity still retained functional qualities of the Imago Dei. These qualities included the joy in creating—still available in our day.