L oving as God does and God encourages us to do, with our entire heart, mind, soul and strength, is how we recapture our creativity. The reason love is the key to creativity is because it’s the essential character of God the Creator, from whom all creativity flows.
This is a theological claim, and kind of abstract, but hang with me here. There’s a relationship between creativity and love. Here’s how.
#1 – To be creative, model the Creator.
First, if we want to be more creative, it stands to reason that we should imitate the Creator, who demonstrates in essential character and also models by action what creativity looks like. Since it starts with character, the first step in becoming more creative is to seek after the character of God. (Actions are merely a result of character – what we do reflects who we are.)
So where do we discover the character of God? In addition to being a story of the journey of the Israelites from bondage to freedom, the story of the book of Exodus in the Bible is also the story of the gradual revealing of the character of God. As Moses and the people walk with God, they learn more and more about who God is.
Our goal is to go on a similar journey, to seek the character of the Creator so that we can imitate the same characteristics.
#2 – The primary characteristic of the Creator is love.
To the Israelites, God offered a short action plan called the Shema:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.” – Deuteronomy 6:5
Centuries later, when asked how to know God, Jesus cited this verse. Jesus is saying, if you want to know God, start with love. The reason we start with love is that love is the nature of God. We are called to love because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 neatly summarizes the key concept of the entire biblical narrative by equating God with love:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8
#3 – Love is the key to learning to create.
So, to create, know God. To know God, love.
But “loving” may not be like the sort of love you are thinking about. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used to describe God’s love is Chesed. Our closest translation is “steadfast love.” Haman Cross, a pastor and friend, once wrote on a Facebook post,
St. Augustine, an influential Christian author of the fourth century A.D., wrote this: “Love God and do as you please.” On the surface, that may seem like a license for sin—”As long as I love God, I can do anything I want, and God’s okay with whatever I do.”
But Augustine seemed to realize that if you genuinely love God, then you will want to do what honors him most. Just as a married woman who loves her husband will want to make him look good, lift him up, and honor him, so also a person who loves God will want to glorify, magnify, and honor him. If you truly love God, then his Holy Spirit will transform you such that what pleases God will become what pleases you.
Jesus, who is God, made this observation: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Similarly, the Apostle John wrote, “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:3). And finally, the Psalmist wrote, “I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (Psalm 119:167).
When we love God, then we want to obey him; obeying him becomes a sign that we love him… If you love God, then his Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, will conform you—all of you, including your desires—into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). In this way, what pleases you and what pleases God become one and the same such that if you love God, you can do whatever pleases you and God will be pleased.
This is a hard word to hear for many. Our culture tends to think of love in terms of feeling and of service, but not in terms of honor. Honor is difficult because sometimes it cuts against the self.
#4 – Creating is loving.
Augustine’s famous saying is a question of ethics – what we do with our lives. This is also the creative question. Creating is doing. It is making things, building, sharing, developing, cultivating. If then, we seek to imitate our Creator as we create, the things we do will increasingly become expressions of love. As Haman explained, love God and do as you please.
Think of love as the filter for your creative ideas. When we love God, and then do as we please, we conform the things we do – our creative works – into something that is in alignment with the character and kingdom of God.
Okay, so if love is the character of the Creator, and creating is loving, then what does this mean? You may be thinking – if you’re still with me, and if you are thank you for making it this far – you may be thinking, that this is nice, but practically speaking, what does love have to do with the creative process?
#5 – In all you do, love with your entire heart, soul, mind and strength.
When we understand the four parts of the Shema, we can more fully know how to love, and we can return to our original relationship with God, which is a creative relationship. Loving as God does and God encourages us to do, with our entire heart, mind, soul and strength, is how we recapture our creativity.
The gradual reveal of God’s character in Exodus gives us a roadmap for how to transform our own character. Consider that the move to becoming more creative is a more toward…
1. Passion, not Apathy. One characteristic of God is passion (Exodus 20:5-6). We still have God’s passion in us, but it’s been buried by apathy. The cure is to rediscover the passions of the heart.
2. Clarity not Confusion, or stinking thinking. Bad thinking is our source of pain and suffering. A characteristic of God is the healing that comes from being your right mind (Ex 15:26). God is a God that heals.
3. Community not Dishonesty. Another characteristic of God is an abiding presence with us (Exodus 23:20, 29:46). We still have the desire to be with God and other images of God in us, but it gets buried with an isolation and loneliness, The cure is to rediscover the connections of the soul by being with others and honoring them rather than focusing on our own needs.
4. Purpose not Bordeom. God is a creating God. (Ex 3:5) Another characteristic of God is that God is a God who causes things to be, who creates. God is never bored. When we model God, we too adopt a sense of purpose.
Summary: If you want to be more creative, work on being more loving – with heart, soul, mind and strength. In the book, I devote the entire second section to the four aspects of love and how each aspect can help us become more creative.