Friday, March 27, 2009

The Spirit of Creativity

Christians often debate what it means to be "filled with the Holy Spirit." On one end of the debate spectrum Pentecostals are accused of being fanatical in their emphasis on tongue-speaking and healing as evidences of the Spirit's presence. On the other end of the spectrum Presbyterians are accused of not putting enough (if any) emphasis on the Spirit's ministry. Somewhere in the middle, Baptistic and non-denominational contemporary churches that draw large crowds of suburban Promise Keepers are sometimes accused of insinuating that emotional expressiveness in the worship service is the key indicator that "the Spirit is moving".

While these debates may have a place, it is interesting that when this topic is discussed and debated, a key passage of the Bible goes strangely unmentioned: Exodus 31:1-5.

These 5 verses deal with a man named Bezalel. Not a well known character in the Scriptures.

Who was he? The first person to be said to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

What was the result of the Spirit's filling? He became an artist. He created. He skillfully made crafts of exquisite beauty. This was his ministry, and according to verse 3, the very purpose for which God filled him.

This shouldn't seem odd to us-- after all, the first verses of the Bible make clear that as the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the earth, a cacophony of creating erupted upon the scene. And God "saw that it was good."

But why is this not discussed more often? Could it be that it seems rather uninteresting to us when compared to the thought of having an extraordinary spiritual experience? Perhaps, but isn't the pleasure of great music, beautiful art, and a well-written movie an extraordinary spiritual experience? Some would say yes, but only if the music, art, and movie is explicitly Christian. But this view hinders us from viewing all of life as sacred, and thus makes Jesus mistaken when He said that even the rocks will cry out in praise to God.

God loves creativity, and will express it through anyone He chooses.

At a little pottery studio in Baltimore, my youngest daughter painted a ceramic cat purple and pink. As her tongue crept out of the right side of her mouth, she focused on the joy of creating. It was then that I understood why Jesus told us to become like little children: For Annie, it was not about staying within the lines or getting recognized for her abilities. It was simply about the joy of painting.

Annie just may understand the Gospel better than I do.

You see, the Scripture says "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". Freedom to create, freedom to fail, and freedom to enjoy all things beautiful. It also teaches that the primary job of the Holy Spirit is not to draw attention to ourselves or even to the Holy Spirit, but to point people to Jesus-- that they would gaze upon His beauty.

In what ways do you see the Spirit's evidence around you?

1 comment:

  1. I see the evidence in what just happened. I was randomly blog surfing - just clicking "next blog" - when I read your name.

    I had to read more. Then I saw you mention your wife's name. And I knew.

    You are never going to believe who this is. Lori - from Knoxville - married to Russell - New Hopewell. Ring any bells??

    From the looks of things, you are doing good. Hope Shelly is as well. Your daughter in the photo is precious.

    We are no longer in Knoxville. We live a little bit of everywhere. Russell is a project manager for a company that installs irrigation systems for golf courses so we live where the job happens to be. It keeps us young! Currently we are in Athens, Georgia.