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The Creative Process

TEACHERS OF CREATIVE THINKING sometimes say, “All things are connected. Try to find relationships where you’ve never seen them before.”

The exercise might raise questions among those who are more committed to “living by the book” than to “thinking outside the box.” On the other hand, it could be that no one has a better reason to believe “all things are connected” than those who take the Bible seriously.

Let me give you an example. You decide whether you think “the connection” is real or imagined.

Could there be a parallel between the creative process God used to make the earth and the process He now wants to use to reorder our inner world? The case sounds like this.

The God who created the earth made something out of nothing. He brought order out of chaos and spoke light into the darkness.

Thousands of years later, this same Creator is still speaking light into the darkness. Now, however, He is speaking into a world of darkened hearts that, for many generations, have been turning their backs on Him (JOHN 1:1-14).

According to the New Testament:

The God who now wants to re-create our inner world comes with the assurance that, in Christ, He gives us everything we need (2 PETER 1:1-4). So Peter, a close friend and apostle of Christ, writes, “For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 PETER 1:5-8).

Now see if you hear echoes of Genesis in the connections Peter calls for:

The Spirit of God moved upon the waters.

In your faith, virtue—Faith works in the darkness of what we cannot see. Virtue, in turn, involves a desire for moral excellence that has its origin in God. When the whole earth was dark and under water, the Spirit of God moved to replace the chaos with something good. Today, in our own darkness and confusion, God asks us to open our minds to a goodness that is better than anything we can presently see or imagine.

Let there be light.

In virtue, knowledge—When our hearts are ready for a new vision of goodness, Peter urges us to pursue knowledge. In context it is clear that he is referring to knowledge that has its source in Christ (vv.1-3). His counsel resonates with the insight of another apostle who wrote, “The God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, . . . has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 CORINTHIANS 4:6).

Even if we cannot see into the darkness around us, the understanding we need to renew our thinking about God and others is found in the grace and truth of Christ.

Let there be boundaries.

In knowledge, self-control—In this context, self-control means to “hold in check” the natural desires that could otherwise control and consume us. In view are those self-centered urges that, if not “held back,” would leave no room for the good God wants to do in us. Peter’s counsel is in step with the first creation. After speaking light into the darkness, our Creator set boundaries for air, land, and sea. He separated the waters below from the clouds above. Then He held back the oceans to form sandy beaches and rocky coastlines. By a similar process He now calls for inner boundaries that will make room for the new thoughts and ways He is giving us.

Let there be seasons.

In self-control, endurance—As God-given self-control enables us to “hold in” natural desire, patience makes it possible to “hold up” under the weight of ever-changing circumstances. Spirit-enabled endurance allows God’s plan to unfold in His time. New ways of thinking form and deepen in the steadfast confidence that God will keep His promises. Here again there are echoes of the first creation. The God of eternity knew how much time He would use to do His work. By designing a complex, sustainable food chain, He anticipated the long-term needs of His creation. Then He hung the sun and the moon in the sky to rule over the ongoing, ever-changing cycles and seasons of time that would follow.

Let there be divine likeness.

In endurance, godliness—Through endurance of faith, we learn to walk and think in new ways. Godliness is a fresh and flexible quality of life that honors and reflects the One who made us for Himself. The forming of such character and depth of personality parallels God’s purpose in creation. His whole creative process moved toward the moment when He breathed His own likeness into a lump of clay.

Let there be community.

In godliness, brotherly kindness—Brotherly kindness is the mutual affection of family love. It tracks back to the day our Creator said that it was not good for man to be alone. His intent has not changed. Although our personal relationship to Him is foundational to life, He knows that our thinking and hearts are not complete apart from relationship with others. From the beginning of time, our Father has wanted those who reflect His likeness to have the benefit of like-minded relationships.

Let there be love.

In brotherly kindness, love—This love is the ultimate in creative thinking. It involves a willingness to esteem others in a way that goes beyond the mutual affections of family love. It is rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus, and even before that, in the opening pages of Genesis. When our first parents turned their backs on their Creator, He did not return the insult. In the days that followed, He showed His willingness to seek the well-being even of those who had no regard for Him.

So what do you think? Are the connections real or imagined? Regardless of your answer, can we pray together:

Father in heaven, we are so inclined to use the darkness in and around us as an excuse to live business as usual. Please do in us, again and again, what You once did with a dark, water-covered earth.

—Mart De Haan


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