The Gift We So Often Neglect
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus — our Creator’s most precious gift to us. But we’ve been given other gifts, too.
At the heart of Christmas is the celebration of our Creator’s most precious gift to us—Jesus— who was born as a normal baby. But God has given us many other gifts, including one we often neglect.
Maybe more than neglect. It sometimes seems as if we re-wrap it and hide it in the back of a dark closet. Or never open it at all because we’re afraid to see what’s inside.
Creativity is one of the most precious gifts our Creator gave us.
God is, above all else, Creator. Everything that exists—from a drab piece of dust to the most glorious rose—came straight from God’s imagination. When Adam and Eve were made, they were both formed in the Creator’s image, capable of both imagining and creating new things. To underline this reality, God gave Adam the honor of naming the animals that had just been brought into being.
Yet, when I talk to many Christians, I don’t see excited, active creators, bubbling with ideas and plans. Instead, I see questioners who seem to doubt their own abilities, and who seem to be waiting for leaders who will give them permission to dream. Sometimes I want to scream.
When we resist creativity, we resist God.
We laugh at the old, “But we’ve always done it this way!” complaint one tends to hear in meetings whenever someone suggests doing things a different way, but the truth is we do resist change—and therefore creativity—all the time. And of course, the problem is that by resisting creativity, we’re actually resisting God, refusing to open one of the precious gifts we were given when we were made in God’s image.
I’ve seen this happen so often, in many organizations, including churches. Creative people, who simply want to use their talents and gifts, have ideas that don’t fit in. So they wind up either getting into arguments with the leadership, wandering around the fringes, moving on, or just giving up.
Creativity often leads to change. And many people fear change.
Why is it like this? I believe it’s because, in our humanity, both as individuals and as groups, we prefer things to be done in ways we understand and can control. And leaders may feel constrained to keep things the same rather to make changes that would make others uncomfortable.
Madeline L’Engle, in her book, Walking on Water, says, “We are afraid of that which we cannot control; so we continue to draw in the boundaries around us, to limit ourselves to what we know and understand. Thus we lose our human calling because we do not dare to be creators, co-creators with God.”
Every person is needed. And every person’s creativity is needed.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells us that the body of Christ will only become mature “as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16, NIV). That “work” involves seeing every one of us functioning as God intended, making full use of our creativity and bringing life to the unique dreams God has placed in each of our hearts.
People who exude creativity are often looked down on by other Christians. It’s as if there’s something wrong with them for wanting to colour outside the lines or try new ways of doing things. But they are necessary.
My hope is that every person might be encouraged and empowered to use their gifts to the very best of their ability, and for the good of all, without fear or embarrassment.
What does your gift of creativity look like?
Have you opened and embraced it yet? Does using it bring you joy?
I have two suggestions for this Christmas season.
- After we thank God for the gift of Christ’s birth, but before we open the gifts our friends and family give us, how about we each spend some time thinking about the creativity we have inside us, and asking our Creator what we should do with it?
- And maybe, later on, we can share our ideas with others who are embracing their own creativity, and look for ways we can help each other become everything God created us to be.
I have a feeling 2020 would be a good year for all of us to try some new things.
First published December, 2013.