Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
This passage reveals the link between creativity and the responsibility to care for what we create. Let’s explore a little:
God, the most creative Person in the universe, dreamt a dream and spoke into being all that we have seen, all that we currently see, and all that we will see in the future. The universe is a testimony to the greatness of God’s word and the depth of his imagination. He made stars. He made planets. He made oceans. He made prairies. He made fish. He made bears. And lastly He made people, forming humanity in his own image, he placed his indelible fingerprint upon every individual who has ever lived, as well as all those who will one day draw the breath of life from his mouth.
In addition to being creative, God is really generous. He perfectly crafted planet Earth, then–shockingly–he gave it all away! He gave it to humanity, which sounds utterly bizarre and borderline foolish, except for the fact that humanity carries his image, and that image includes the ability to rule all that was given.
Creativity produces responsibility and authority. God made the animals but didn’t name them–He left that for Adam. The moment Adam exercised his creativity in naming the animals, he effectively became responsible for them. That’s why creativity and responsibility go together. For example, when I was a young boy my father gave me a puppy. The puppy had no name, and my father left me the job of giving the puppy a name. I named him Bo, and after that he was mine: mine to feed, mine to water, and mine to care for. All of this was magnified a hundred fold when I became a father. As I held my first-born son in my arms, I named him River. He wasn’t just mine to name–he was mine to nurture and raise.
The same is true for our function in the church. As worship leaders, pastors, and songwriters we must continually embrace creative expression. Creativity is indivisibly linked to the image of God within us. We have the responsibility to rule by nurturing order and care in what we create. Anyone who has ever felt something so subtle and powerful as a creative idea, who has struggled to find the right words, knows this. As songwriters for the local church we have the opportunity to give people language for complicated feelings, to help nurture their love for God, and to indirectly communicate that indigenous expression is welcomed. Over time this will cause our churches to become loving “authorities” surrounding the arts and expression.