Yesterday, we talked about God taking the broken and ugly and messy, and bringing something beautiful from it. Today, we’re picking up where we left off.
Let’s look to 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 for the “after” of this “before and after”. Read it in your Bible, follow the link, or keep going to read it in sections with my thoughts in between. 😉
Whew! That’s quite a bit, and so packed with wonderful grace and motivation and creativity. Let’s unpack it a bit.
Verse 16 – From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
This is about perspective and how we see things, and more importantly, how God sees things. And isn’t creativity so often about seeing what isn’t plainly visible? Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 16:7 (but keep your finger or a bookmark in 2 Corinthians 5…we’ll be coming back in a moment!). This verse sits in the middle of God showing Samuel who He has chosen to be king of Israel after He rejected Saul. Samuel is expecting someone whose presence will command respect and authority. But God tells him that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”
We can’t see into one another’s hearts, like God does, but a key component of creativity is seeing beyond the obvious. God’s vision extends beyond what we can see or sense or imagine on our own. By the Holy Spirit, we are able to see a little like God does. And what does He see? Let’s read on…
Verse 17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Here’s the key to all of this, what clears our eyes and cleanses our sins: Christ. Christ is what God sees and Christ is what we see in others. Christ is acting through us to help others and acting through others to help us, in what we call vocation. Whether it’s the vocation of mother or father, sister, brother, friend, or neighbor…whether it’s your profession, your volunteer position, or something else. Any place that you serve others is really God using you as His hands and feet to serve those people.
Vocation is where creativity finds excellence in purpose.
Do you remember talking about purpose the other day? It’s what drives creativity. Why do we do what we do, whether it’s thinking creatively about a problem to solve, planning the front flowerbeds, choosing the colors and stitches of a blanket we’re crocheting, or deciding how to design a greeting card for someone. Is it to share beauty? That’s certainly an excellent purpose. Is it to show caring? That’s also an excellent purpose. Is it to share Christ? That is the most excellent purpose, and the purpose given the Body of Christ.
Read Luke 19:10, to see why Jesus says He came. Well? That’s pretty clear. And in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), He shares that mission with His followers, with us. This is pretty exciting and humbling stuff, isn’t it? Being called to this mission. And yet we remember that it isn’t us that will change hearts, but God. Let’s keep reading.
Verses 18-19 – All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
What comfort! It doesn’t depend on us. God provides it all. Read 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 to see how Paul says that “it’s all God”. See? The new creation, the changing of hearts, the reconciliation, the skills and the willingness and the heart for ministry. He’s doing it all, but choosing to use us, poor, weak human vessels that we are, holding the greatest gift that could ever be.
Creativity for the sake of creativity is great. It’s beautiful and wonderful and amazing to see what people are capable of coming up with. What an excellent thing, though, when our God-given creativity is put to work for the Kingdom of God: visual art and song and crafts and more, as tools for Kingdom-work and sharing the Good News with one another and with a hurting world.
In the comments below, I’d love for you to share with me either how you use your own craft for the Kingdom-work, or how you might begin to. And if you don’t have a craft, maybe consider how one that interests you could be used for the same!