Creation 2019-02-06T12:31:07+00:00

creation

HUMAN IMAGEBEARERS IN A GARDEN TEMPLE

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DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY WITHIN

Creation

GARDEN TEMPLE 

God spoke all things into existence, He is before all things. All things were created in Him, by Him, through Him and for Him. He holds all things together right up until this moment. He will also redeem all things and reconcile All things to Himself. The gospel message is cosmological. God is not out to simply save souls, but to redeem the whole cosmos. All we can see and all we can’t see; every atom, every creature, and longs to welcome back every imagebearer. We are His priests in the temple of Creation, with heaven and earth re-united. Every human being is designed to be His Creative Imagebearer. We reflect Him to the world in our humanity and we can, in the likeness of Christ, bear His divine image out into the world.

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

– Romans 1:20 (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
– Psalm 19:1-5 (NIV)

“Instead of offering a statement of causes, Genesis 1 is offering a statement of how everything will work according to God’s purposes. In that sense the text looks to the future (how this cosmos will function for human beings with God at its center) rather than to the past (how God brought material into being). Purpose entails some level of causation (though it does not specify the level) and affirms sovereign control of the causation process.”

– John H. Walton

“God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.”

– A.W. Tozer

“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”

– Francis Bacon

Human

IMAGEBEARERS

We are made to image God as Human beings. We will always be human. In the beginning, in the middle and in the end of all things. We never become something other than human.

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In a Garden Temple

THEME

The Creation account in Genesis has many similarities with the Dedication of a Temple. The writing structure in Genesis 1 goes through a week long dedication ceremony., into which God places His Imagebearers. It is similar to the account of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. In each case, human beings as God’s image on earth are placed at the centre of worship to God. God said not to make images of Him, because He already has made us in His image, as human beings!

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Entering into the story…

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine! – Abraham Kuyper

Read the passage linked below and imagine the scene as if you were a movie director working with the characters. Often, we do not enter scripture with our humanity intact and we do not dignify the characters we find there by giving them their humanity in return. The goal of Lectio Divina is to meditate on the scene we find there and allow the characters to speak to us by vividly imagining the scene as if we are standing there physically too. Ask Holy Spirit to make the scenario come to life as you read using all of your senses to visualise everything in the scene…

Psalm 139 – Worship in Creation

How do you view your humanity and God’s creation in light of this passage? Becoming a disciple is learning to rule and reign with God over all of life. What do you hear of David’s reverence for God? His nature and character expressed in His goodness and His presence over every part of David’s life. In the first few passages, David invites God’s investigation into every corner of his life. What does this reveal? Is this risky? How often have you heard of someone who invites investigation? Begs for it? A desire to be an open book? This speaks to a deep vulnerability and humility; to be known by God and make Himself known to God, who in turn longs to be known and made known to others. We travel the journey in two directions into deeper relationship, transparency and accountability. How does David long for feedback, for critique and for excellence? Notice how His frame of reference is not himself, or His environment but something above and beyond that superseding human experience, all the while including all that is human.

Our experience of God is to be found in our humanity, our experience of the whole of Creation. What imagery is David using? Notice the poetry, the prose and the exuberance in his words. David is a fanboy, he is in awe of God. He is drawn to the spiritual as he contemplates the Creator and all He has made. How does Creation speak of God’s power, His divine attributes, His nature and character and His presence with us? David sings, “You have shaped me inside and out, knit me together”. David is in equal measure a naturalist, a poet, a worshipper and an observer as much as he is an imagebearer. A creative one at that.

As you read the passage, how does Creation become the translator for God? Why does God use animals, creatures, physical things as myriad parables of His goodness, His kindness and His providence for us in every moment of everyday? No matter where we look we see the glory of God in what He has made. Creation is the first temple for His presence, made by the Word of God. We are His image, His high priests in the temple made to reflect Him in every part of our embodied spirituality. Take a moment to think of how God shows His love and goodness to you through the whole of Creation. Through your sense of taste, touch, smell, sound and sight. Through these five main human senses, we are created to perceive what as such we can’t see His godhead, His eternal power and His divine attributes! We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

1) Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this video.

2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.

3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.

4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image, or emotion. Close and rest your eyes.

5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today through this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.

Creation Wall

Embodied Spirituality in Practice

A DISCIPLINE OR PRACTICE TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.

In the early church, especially in monastic traditions, each monk would have a small room in which he would pray, serve God, grow vegetables and do creative work. This cell was the hub of his life, his responsibilities and his calling. He would join with the others to have communal meals, worship and prayer. Often the younger monks would go to the Abba in their community to ask for advice or help with something that was hard to bare.

This cell is where His responsibilities and calling lay. He was often told,“Go to your cell and it will teach you everything you need to know.” The idea behind this was that in each monk’s call, he would find God’s grace for what is in his cell. Stay in your responsibility, calling, family and job. God will meet with you there in the midst of the everyday moments and give you grace to learn, faithfully carry , learn to rule and reign and be responsible within it. Wise words even for us today! When we embrace these tensions we become more fully human, just as God designed His imagebearers to be. God must be God and I must be content with being fully human!

IMAGEBEARER: TENSION REFLECTION

Getting in touch with our human imagebearing responsibilities.

Notice how God uses what is in your cell to teach you as His human imagebearer.

When you go to your cell, what do you find there? 

Remember your cell is your present responsibilities, your family life, your human cell(s). 

Take a moment to think of all the things you must be responsible for and allow God in, to reframe everything in His presence…

What can you learn from your current responsibilities, calling, family life, health or circumstances? Can you see God in the midst of it all, working it all together for your good?

How can you become further aware and embracing of your own humanity as well as God’s nature as Lord of All?

Here is a related Spiritual Practice called “Household Economics” for you to explore.

Application

DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY OF DESIGN, CREATIVITY AND THE ARTS.

At each step along the itinerary of the Biblical Timeline we will look at how the following themes come into play at each juncture of the journey…

Just as the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit are sovereign over all creation, they have endowed every human image bearer to be sovereign over his domain. God is infinite so is Lord of All, we are finite so are responsible for our small part of His world. We are stewards and must be proactive over our small portion. Each of us are a small image of God in the world. Each imagebearer is responsible. Our decisions over small things when made with other image bearers can produce wonderful creativity in our unity. We learn in the midst of a God who makes space for us, who gives us responsibility and calls us to be like Him. This generous God wants to be represented by His own imagebearers in the world. To bless and honour, name and nurture as well as bring order, beauty and abundance through the work of our hands. To extend His garden temple to the whole world as far as our influence extends. He will bless all generations through us. Will teach us, commune with us and extend His kingdom through us into the wider world. So that Heaven and earth are blessed by our embodied spiritual work of gardening, tending, multiplying and caring for all creation. This is the first call of God on us as imagebearers. Just as God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together in unison for their purpose to become reality. We are called to work together too. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:28

God invites us into His narrative as soon as we are able to be active participants. He has set the stage of creation and dedicated it in every part as a gorgeous garden. A living temple filled with colour, extravagant and diverse creatures, not made with human hands. He shaped it from being formless and void into a living, breathing and animated world. Then, he places us as human beings, as His god-idols, His representation as High Priests over it. We are elevated over it, though we were made of dust. We are alike to all other creatures, yet, we are the only ones He breathes into and imparts an image bearing ability within. It is only in humanity that God says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27. The garden is the context and we are to work in it, as a pure delight, a vocational call to be embodied in our spirituality. The call to name the animals is a huge vote of confidence. We could name any creature we came across and have been doing so ever since. We are still engaged in this first calling, we have not completed it all these years later. To name something, means that you have the ability to have authority over it. God has given us everything for our good, whatever we name we should love. We live an abundant life and we worship God through a joyful delight in our meaningful labour. A call to create is an embodied vocational call to be like God in our imagebearing.

I love the story of the dedication of all things. It’s as if God wants to bless every stage, every layer and every creature with goodness, peace and freedom. For Creatives it is the Genesis point of all things, it is written in a way that we can relate to. If we have ever engaged in project management, we are working in teams and rely on one another for the completion of the task at hand. It will take all of us to achieve it, no-one is exempt and we are all gifted in unique ways. So,God has created a world that is interconnected and integrated into a whole. It is all linked together, heaven and earth are united into one. There is nothing to separate one person from another. Nothing to divide us on racial, ethnic, economic or political grounds. All is unified and yet there is expansive diversity too, God respects both the unity and the diversity of it all. The fact that He includes human beings as key players in the future of His project is mind boggling. He does it fully, wholeheartedly and without reservation. He is creating a kingdom over which we get to serve as high priests, joining with creation in worship. We are not to simply maintain, but to inventively and creatively transform His creation. We invent musical instruments, furniture, populate the earth all to spread and bless creation, with our unique fingerprints on all that He has made. He wants us to join with Him. To co-labour and manage our small part of His big creation as equal and full creative assistants to His work. God knows that it is risky to take on junior designers, but He wants us to feel His approval, His generosity and His invitation into the creative process from the very start.

The story of God begins with Him creating All things. Everything not God that came into being from God is included in these two words. All things. We reduce the gospel down to Jesus on the cross, but the gospel has always been about everything, it is cosmological. God made all things, holds all things together up until this very moment and will redeem and reconcile all things to Himself in the end. If we believe that God made all things in the beginning, then we must have a basis for accounting for all things being included at the end of the narrative too. Anything left out, leaves God just the saviour of souls, or our spirit and not much more. God is not creating all things in the beginning and then ending with a few disembodied souls floating about in the end. He is in it to redeem it – all of it. We will see that God’s plan is to redeem creation too. To redeem the garden He created and include what we have created also, all that is good and wholesome in our cultural inventiveness. The Bible speaks of a glorious city with garden elements. Every tribe and tongue and culture included in the revelation of the New Heavens and New Earth in the end. We were made human, are human now and will be human there! God will redeem all things, nothing is left out of His redemptive plan. The invitation is open for all, though some will refuse His invitation by their free will. We make ourselves exempt.

As soon as God creates something that is apart from Himself, in His nature. Something other than the Trinity. He opens Himself up for pain. God is taking a huge risk in creating, inaugurating and dedicating the whole of creation as something that is related to Him. It references Him and reflects Him and yet can also be subject to being ripped from Him. God seems to wed himself to His creation in a way where the success of His creation has an indelible impact on Him. He is even now allowing for the fact that Creation, All things can have the ability to create an alternate reality, to veer off course and experience something that He never intended for it. Pain and Sin. Just as we are embodied spiritual creatures, when we experience physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual dissonance, we know there is something wrong because it pains us. It is an early warning system that tells us that we are out of sync with God and with ourselves. Things are not as they should be, our world is not as it should be, something has gone horribly wrong and we need to pay attention to where it hurts. God has shown His hand in creation in that He has now embraced the weakness of a finite, beautiful, gifted and frail creation, and placed all of it in the hands of His imagebearers who have a choice over how they will weild their free will. For or against Him, toward or away from Him. Nothing God has made is bad, but all the good things he has made can be used or abused. It is how we use God’s creation that results in good or evil – worship or idolatry. We choose whether we become more and more fully human, or if we instead dehumanise and exploit our humanity to become inhumanely violent. Things are not as they should be, our world is not as it should be, something has gone horribly wrong and we need to pay attention to where it hurts. God has shown His hand in creation in that He has now embraced the weakness of a finite, beautiful, gifted and frail creation, and placed all of it in the hands of His imagebearers who have a choice over how they will weld their free will, for or against Him, toward or away from Him. Nothing God has made is bad, but all the good things he has made can be used for or against Him. It is how we use God’s creation that results in good or evil – worship or idolatry. We choose whether we become more and more fully human or if we dehumanise and exploit our humanity to become inhumane.

As creatives, we get to place our footage on a timeline to edit a film. We decide the layers of paint that we will commit to a canvas. We move around our subject to capture a portrait and wait for the definitive moment that puts them in the best light or captures their expression perfectly. We get to play in the orchestra, knowing that our notes join with the rest of the musicians, according to the right timing of the notes. We Know when we are in tune and that we must hit our cues just like an actor does according to his mark. We follow the blueprint as architects, knowing that our work must be in line with the masterplan set out for us. Our Creative work must include an idea, the genesis of which is usually terrifying and pushes the boundaries of what we have done before. Perhaps pushing the outer limits of our creativity, skillset or current abilities. We must keep learning, pushing the envelope and expressing ourselves in new and wonderful ways. It is a challenge to achieve greater heights of creative work. We are rarely satisfied. Yet, God took time to rest, to look back on His Creation and assess it. To be inspired for more and His creativity was not a once and for all thing, He is still creating moment by moment. Indeed He would be tested again and again – He must also problem solve and trouble shoot His grand plan, because it will go pear-shaped quite quickly. and quite often too. As creatives, we can relate to all of this, I am sure.

We cannot not communicate! God chose to make us embodied spiritual creatures, made to reflect Him in all of His ways. He is infinite, but somehow in our finite lives we reflect who He is in our daily living. This is incredible. That an all powerful God who is sovereign over all things, would make us responsible for a few finite things with the same opportunity to do as He does. I am embodied and live my whole life within my body. I cannot be anywhere where my body is not, I am constrained by it, but also compelled by it. Within the limitations, I am free to choose what I will do with all that I am. I can have an impact in my own life and the lives of others too. I make a difference, it can be constructive or destructive, but I do make a real dent for good or bad in other’s lives. I am also communicating constantly both through what I do and what I don’t do. Most of communication is non-verbal. Our bodies give us away constantly, our faces and body language tell people what is going on emotionally, mentally or physically. This is how God made us to navigate the world. My body is how I move around, how I am truly known and how I have accountability for my actions. I am a living creature among many other image bearers. Every, and all life is given by God, sustained by Him and is created for Him, by Him, through Him. Colossians 1:16

Creative expression

INSPIRATION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION FROM A CREATIVE

JEFF ROGERS

DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING:

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Creative Assignments

DEVOTIONAL DISCOVERY OF SOMETHING IN NATURE

A leaf, an animal, ecosystem, water cycle or weather patterns, human body, micro or macro creation.

Research and learn as much as you can about your chosen creature. Find out something interesting and surprising that you didn’t know or haven’t seen or realized before. Do as much research as you can so that you can share the creature’s attributes comprehensively.

e.g. the relationship between the flower and the bee in the case of the bucket orchid.

Illustrate something from Creation that inspires you in your own creativity. Paint it, film it, draw it or write about it. Then upload it for us to share it!

e.g. pictures and description of the flower (bucket orchid), its parts and the relationship it has to its environment.

Identify an example of the character of God revealed within your chosen aspect of creation. Ask questions like; Why did God create it in this way? What is He communicating through it? What did He prioritize in the design? etc.

To aid you in your analysis, ask yourself, what is the creature’s Form, Function and Relationship?
Form = What does it look like, what colours, shapes, what parts does it have?
Function = What is the function of each part as well as the creature as a whole? How do the different parts make up the whole?
Relationship = What relationship does the creature have with it’s environment? What defense mechanisms? What role does it play? How does it reproduce? What do these different facets say about the nature and character of God?

How can this be applied to our lives practically, what can we take from the devotion/discovery that can change the way we perceive God? Or is there something here that can be relevant to how we live our lives or interact with our environment? Do you have any scripture that will tie in well with the devotion or aspects of the creature chosen?

SOME EXAMPLES

This is a chance to express yourself creatively. Perhaps something in this part of the timeline has challenged, excited or inspired you. You may want to think about how your could express that through drawing, writing, painting, filming, designing or photographing something to share with others here at creativeimagebearers.com.

So write a haiku, poem, song or create a piece to express yourself and share it with us!

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Final Take-Away to give context…

PROVOKE THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS…

We are constrained by Nature; everything God has created is finite: we are all faced with limitations that inspire great innovative creativity. We have to find ways to work within our constraints and overcome them. This leads to great creativity from the first scratchings on cave walls, which lead to icons, letters and language. We discover fire and how to harness it and use fuels to send imagebearers to the moon and the international space station.

We are compelled by Nature. We see birds fly and long to do the same. We refuse to let our limitations hold us back from harnessing the power of nature to fling ourselves into the unknown. We are inquisitive, adventurous and inspired by the playground of learning we find in the created order. God has given us everything we need and is waiting for us to discover it all through science, technology and endless learning. Still, we must design according to human proportions e.g. finger spacing on a keyboard is set by our human hand span etc. God is creative and we are in His image!

How does Creation inspire you? Spend time in nature. Look at little bugs, study things under a microscope. What gives you life? Photograph landscapes, study stars, how the brain works, look everywhere for new creatures, new ideas and new inspiration for your own development of colour theory, design principles or usability. Nature is full of surprises we have yet to still discover.

Your take-away

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU

Questionnaire

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