A definition of creativity came to me as I was reflecting on puns. I used to see puns as subpar humor, unless you’re aiming for a cringe (extra dad humor points). But I was reading James Geary’s Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, and he has a chapter on puns. The chapter helped me appreciate what goes into making a pun: you’re bringing together two separate ideas and holding them in balance to create humor.
I realized that every time I’ve seen something creative, it’s brought two things together to see what happens. A song brings words together to make lines and lines to make stanzas. It brings lyrics and melody together. Then it brings lyric and melody together alongside singers and instruments—all of which are then brought together with other songs in an album and with an audience in a concert. Creativity brings this and that together to see what will happen.
And it all began back when God gave us the stuff that we could arrange and rearrange: “In the beginning God created . . .” (Genesis 1:1). What else does the Bible say about creativity? The following are ten Bible verses on creativity.
#1 – God created us to create.
“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)
Just as a fish has trouble knowing what it’s like to feel wet, we earthlings might forget just how creative God is, as we are immersed 24/7 in his creativity. We might just forget to see it. Viewers found themselves depressed after watching Avatar because the sights were so vibrant compared to their drab everydayness. In response to the bizarre wave of depression hitting numerous viewers, the great Janie B. Chaney wrote, “All right everybody, take a deep breath . . . back away from the computer . . . and go take a walk.” Why? Because the hike in creation will remind us that “everything in the movie was taken from real life and rearranged, enlarged, or color-enhanced.” God is creative. And by creating us in his image—and making us male and female—he created us to be creators too.
#2 – God gave us creative jobs.
“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19)
The first job God gave Adam was to come up with hundreds of names. Not all the same name. Not Thing 1, Thing 2, and so on. God called Adam to think creatively.
Bible verses on creativity: “He brought them to the man to see what he would name them.”
#3 – God gives people creative abilities.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:1-6)
Jesus compared God’s Spirit to the wind—powerful, unpredictable, and blowing where it pleases (John 3:8). In this passage from Exodus, God’s Spirit gave wisdom, understanding, and skillfulness to a craftsman named Bezalel. In his case, the skillfulness was creative artistry. He was gifted with the ability to bring together multiple materials and colors to create beautiful art for the synagogue.
#4 – God enjoys creative, skillful art.
“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Psalm 33:3)
According to the Psalms, our Creator loves hearing our creativity. How we sing and play matters: skillfully, joyfully, and creatively (“sing a new song”). It’s true that sometimes our songs won’t be joyful (see Psalm 86 for example), and that even when they are, it might be more noise than art (Psalm 100:1 in the King James Version says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”). Whatever we bring before him, let’s bring our whole selves, including our best skill and creativity, into it.
Bible verses on creativity: “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
#5 – Jesus responded to criticism creatively.
“They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.” (John 8:6)
This verse is taken from the account of a woman caught in adultery and hauled before Jesus to trap him. If he answered that, yes, she should die, then he was subverting Rome, which alone had death-penalty authority. If he answered that, no, she should not die, then he was arguing with instructions in the law of Moses. In his book Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity, recording artist Michael Card helpfully points out how creative Jesus was in choosing to deescalate the volatility by writing on the ground. Was he writing words? Drawing? Doodling? Whatever it was, it was a creative pause which drew people in to hear more.
#6 – God wants creative churches which function as one body with many parts.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)
Churches are mosaics of creatively created people. Wise church leaders will follow the Spirit’s lead in empowering their people to thrive in their areas of giftedness in ways that glorify God and bless the church.
#7 – God accomplishes his will creatively, with unexpected plot twists.
“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” (Galatians 1:11-16)
What a creative storyteller God is. Centuries before, he had promised to one day bring Gentiles, not just Jews, into his fold of redeemed people (e.g., Isaiah 49:6). After his resurrection, Jesus reopened this expectation by sending his disciples to make more disciples “of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Yet for chapter after chapter of Acts, the Jesus movement continued to center primarily on Jews. By chapter 9, the church had other problems: some hotshot Pharisee named Saul was going from town to town arresting Christians and destroying the church. Only the best of storytellers would take a guy like Saul and turn him into Jesus’ apostle to the Gentiles in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, so that he would go from town to town planting churches instead of destroying them.
Bible verses on creativity: “. . . God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles . . .”
#8 – God saves us so that we might do good things that bless people.
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)
Whereas sinning has predictably depressing results, the possibilities that come from doing good are endless and exciting. Let’s not forget that God saved us so that we might do good things he created for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Doing good means millions of ways to participate in Jesus’ project of restoring a broken world.
#9 – God is planning a heaven filled with cultural variety.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)
I remember a teacher of mine pointing out that, somehow, John (writer of Revelation) was able to discern that these people were from “every nation, tribe, people and language.” This wasn’t one or two or three cultures. Heaven will be filled with endless cultural variety.
Bible verses on creativity: “. . . a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language . . .”
#10 – God creates new things and things new.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5)
Even after creating everything, God has new things to create on the horizon. I believe we do, too.
Attention, Creatives! Introducing Renew Creative
What could be better than getting together and talking about our culture (usually in negative tones)? Here’s something that’s way better: Let’s make culture.
I’m excited to give you a preview of something on the horizon for RENEW.org. But first, what exactly is RENEW.org? One way I describe RENEW.org is that we’re a network that is bringing people from the theology table and people from the disciple making table to come eat at the same table. At RENEW.org, we create helpful tools based in solid theology to be used in disciple making relationships.
We’re working to bring another group to the table: creatives. We want RENEW.org to be a network in which musicians, artists, creative writers, etc. come together and create great art informed by solid theology.
“We want RENEW.org to be a network in which musicians, artists, creative writers, etc. come together and create great art informed by solid theology.”
This is a new endeavor for us, but we want to give you a couple snapshots of how we’re encouraging creatives to use their gifts in the RENEW.org Network:
- Check out a brand new song released today by “Renew Creative.” Led by worship leader and recording artist Dave Stovall, the song is called “Song of My Love for You.” It’s fantastic! Find the song on Spotify by clicking HERE, and for a “link tree” where you can stream the music on any music app, click HERE.
- Are you a creative who cares about good theology? If so, we encourage you to come to the 2024 National Gathering in Indy and join Monday evening’s collaborative breakout on building a culture of creativity. The conversation will be led by Dave Stovall, Kim Ford, and Daniel McCoy. Dave will also be leading worship at the Gathering. Register for the Gathering HERE.
 All Scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are from the NIV.
 Janie B. Chaney, “Reel Beauty,” World, January 29, 2010 https://wng.org/articles/reel-beauty-1617611021.