Summary: An exploration of creative gifts, especially artistry, artisanship and music.
Where do you rate on the creativity scale? Do you look at a stripe of paint on a piece on a canvas and go, "Wow! That’s really profound." Or do you just sort of stare at it in puzzled disbelief. "How much is this thing going for?"
Creativity is one of those wonderful gifts God has imparted into the human spirit. We see it expressed in all kinds of ways: in problem solving, design, in the arts. Some of us are more creative than others, but we also can be creative in different ways.
Some of you might use an iPod - Apple is a very creative company that is known for its innovation - from it’s hardware to its user experience. That’s why it’s the market leader for portable music. In car making the Japanese are known for their creative and savvy use of space. One of my favourite author’s is C.S. Lewis - he was a creative thinker and writer. You probably have a favourite composer or band. Creativity is all around us
People are creative because God is creative. The beginning of the Bible is all about his creativity. The other day I was out walking when I noticed the birds singing. Then I walked past a bush buzzing with bees. I’d been out in the pine forest with all the wildflowers blooming. What an amazingly creative God!
And what about creativity in the church? Ummm… We do OK with music, but we’re probably not known for our creativity so much, are we? But if God is so creative, if he has put creativity into us, and if we have the Spirit of God, shouldn’t we reflect that creativity in our church?
We’ve been looking at the gifts, and this morning we’re going to look at the creative gifts. That’s a huge category, so I want to narrow it down to two main passages. But remember that we’re not limiting gifts only to what we find in the Bible, because the Bible seems to indicate that there are more than what we find there.
Exodus 31.3-11 when the Israelites came out of Egypt God appointed some of them to build the tabernacle, which was a kind of mobile tent. He tells Moses about it on Mt Siniai. And God said:
READ Ex 31.3-11
Bezalel’s artistic gifting extended to a number of different areas. Furniture making, woodworking, metalworking, working with precious stones. The people were skilled in weaving and making high quality clothes and perfume. You have everything from art to craft to artisanship.
And these people didn’t just have the natural ability that’s wired into many artistic people, God said, "I have filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…" Bezalel in particular was filled with the Spirit. In other words, God had given him a specific gift so the temple could be built.
This tells us a couple of things.
First that artistry and artisanship can be charismatic gifts given by the Spirit. I don’t think every skilled artist necessarily has a spiritual gift for art, but some do.
The second thing is the value that God places on creativity and art. The stuff going into the temple wasn’t just functional furniture, v.4 says it involved ’artistic designs’. God wanted it to look good. He wanted the incense and anointing oil to smell good.
Don’t get me wrong, we need functional people who can just make things fit together well. It actually takes someone very creative to find better ways of achieving good function. You know, in the car making world the Swedes have a reputation for building safe, functional cars. If you were around a few years ago do you remember the old Volvos. But do you remember what else they had a reputation for? Really bad aesthetic design. They were kind of embarrassing. So we need function and aesthetics.
Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about this idea of not getting tied up with what is your ’spiritual gift’, but using what you’ve got to serve God and build up the body. You might not think you have much of a spiritual gift of creativity. I enjoy photography, but I don’t think I have a gift for it, spiritual or otherwise. But what you do can turn into a gift when you do it for God’s pleasure or to serve God’s people.
If this passage tells us nothing else it tells us that God values artistry and craft. But we don’t really need the Bible to tell us that, do we? And we don’t need a spiritual gift to use this part of our humanity to glorify God. In fact, we must!
I’ll talk more about how we can do that in a moment.