Modern society, perhaps more than ever, drives us to consume. We consume products then dispose of them when they become outdated. We absorb all that our phones, computers, Alexa’s, and streaming service demands. Though some of us may spend less time consuming than others, we still devour food, media, and words daily.
And what of our relationship with God? We can sit under preaching three times per week. We read and prayerfully consider the Bible, which of course is all good. But I argue that just as we consume, we also ought to create.
I put myself on the I’m-not-very-creative team. Thoughtful paintings intrigue me, but I look at them and say, “Not me. I could never do that.” I once told a work colleague—who by my estimation is a talented artist—that I love cartography, but I’m not artistic enough to make a beautiful map. My penmanship is atrocious. I’m imprecise. I’m impatient. She simply replied back, “You don’t practice, do you?”
I guess I don’t. I love the ease of consuming maps, books, music, and might I add: Bible teaching and preaching. But to put in the work of learning how to create such things seems daunting.
To observe the greatest example, our Lord in heaven, is to observe his creative attributes. He made the earth and continues to create. He continues to create new believers. He directs His will in the world. He sculpts the cloud patterns, paints the heavens with stars, and clothes the grass of the field with lilies. God is a creator.
Much of the Jewish sabbath laws revolve around the prohibition of acts of creation. It’s easy for us Gentiles to simply boil those laws down to “don’t work.” But creation is more than work. I like one common definition of creation: to bring order to chaos.
In a sense, the work of creation requires the same ingredients as acts of consumption: desire, investment of time, and deliberate focus. On the other hand, creation differentiates itself from consumption in one critical area, at least for it to be deemed worthy by society: quality. Low-quality creative works are worth little, which I think is what makes creation harder. We demand that the things we consume—others’ works of creation—be perfect, or at least close.
Thus, the temptation is to always consume and to only create what is necessary to survive. As long as we’re getting, we think ourselves fulfilled. At least that’s how I’ve felt.
I would say works of creation cover a broad spectrum. For some, it may be woodworking and carpentry, while others are expert quilters and painters. Immediately, our minds wander to associating these works with our duties—our jobs and responsibilities. I’m a software developer by profession. My wife teaches our children most days. True, those are our duties, which both require acts of creation. But what about the areas outside our responsibilities? What am I creating to glorify God beyond what is required?
So, the challenge to me was to create more, especially something that others could consume, and I hope, be inspired to create themselves. Learning is great, but what am I giving? Reading is highly commendable, but what am I writing for others? Laboring for a wage is necessary, but how am I helping others with that income? Listening to God through preaching and study is my spiritual lifeline, but how am I reinvesting? Am I evangelizing? Do I pray for the needs of my church? And I haven’t even mentioned my responsibility as a father.
Don’t fear creating. Find something both desirable to you and others, practice it, perfect it, and give it. Yes, it requires time. Replace some of your modern consumptive habits, even if they are not inherently wrong. Honor the Creator of the World by mimicking Him.