Responding to Our Creator’s Creativity
By Bryan Belknap – BSF Creative Director
When we think of Old Testament heroes of the faith, the usual names come to mind:
But none of these well-known pillars of faith was the first recorded person in the Bible to receive the Spirit of God. That honor belongs to … (drumroll) …
That’s right. Bezalel — the one so crafty with wood, jewels, and gold — was filled with God’s Spirit in Exodus 31:3 to serve as chief designer and interior decorator of the Tabernacle.
Wait, what? He received God’s Spirit to do arts and crafts and not write Scripture or lead an army into the Promised Land?!
While we might be tempted to think God has more important things to consider than color patterns and furniture arrangements, Scripture reveals He does, indeed, care deeply about artistry and aesthetics.
We recently studied God’s orderly creation of the universe in Genesis. Not only did God take great care to put everything in its proper place, He also made our incredible world beautiful. He placed a soothing blue sky over green forests and fields. He did not make vast fiery red or orange oceans, knowing those colors tend to make human beings anxious and angry. It’s doubtful a human would have thought “a vast ocean of gritty sand would be lovely,” but anyone who has watched sunlight and shadows dance across endless waves of desert sand knows our Creator is incredibly creative indeed.
Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God uses the beauty of creation to draw people to Himself, just like the Tabernacle was artfully designed by God’s Spirit working in Bezalel to point the Israelites to Him.
Made in the image of God
Genesis 1:27 states:
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
While this glorious, mysterious, incredible truth definitely speaks to our intrinsic value and special place amongst all of creation, it also has practical implications. As image bearers, we share certain qualities with our creator God.
Human beings are unique in nature in that we can imagine something and then turn that thought into reality. Although we can’t speak something into existence out of nothing like God, He does still call us to use our God-given creativity to reflect His beauty on earth.
Reflections of Christ
As we prepare for our study of Matthew, we see the creativity of the Father embodied in His Son. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:15-16 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
And we are told in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
So how can we, as believers, follow Christ’s example in creativity?
You might be tempted to stop right here with protests of not being creative. “I don’t paint or act or sing!” But consider the creativity our Savior displayed during His ministry on earth; you might recognize some of these in your own life.
While we don’t have any examples of Jesus’ handiwork, Mark 6:3 states Jesus was known in his hometown by his trade, carpentry. (Can you imagine how expensive one of His tables would be at an auction today?!?) This meant He could look at a piece of wood, picture what He wanted the hunk of pine to become, then turn His imagination into a reality. Physical labor, whether its gardening or construction, can be an act of worship and creativity.
Jesus took deep, unseen spiritual realities and placed them within concrete stories His audience could grasp. Whether it’s the boundless love of God as presented in The Prodigal Son or a vivid picture of our hard-heartedness in the face of God’s lavish forgiveness in The Unforgiving Servant, Jesus created practical methods for presenting the spiritual. No, Jesus doesn’t expect all of His children to be writers, but He does call us to share our personal stories of being transformed by Him. And His gift for storytelling challenges us to try to put the unseen spiritual matters of faith into words a seeker might understand when we have the opportunity.
Jesus’ miracles showcase His tremendous creativity. He healed blindness with a word (Luke 18:35), a touch (Matthew 9:29), and mud made from spit (John 9:6-7). The physical actions of His miracles also made spiritual points. So, while you might not be turning water into wine, you mimic the work of our Lord when you minister to the weak, outcast, or suffering. When you point them to the spiritual reality of a loving God who sees and loves them, you are reflecting Christ’s wonderful creativity in His ministry.
So how will you respond in labor, words, or works? How might God be calling you to creatively use your unique gifts for His glory?
BSF Art Galleries
One way we at BSF Headquarters have responded is by creating BSF Galleries that connect to our studies. We are not looking to create photorealistic pictures of Scripture (because no one knows exactly what biblical events looked like). Rather, we wanted artistic expressions inspired by God’s Word. That is why we asked professional artists in the BSF family from around the world to read, meditate upon and pray over their chosen passage.
Then they worked. They created. They produced what you ultimately see displayed in the gallery.
Like in the previous Genesis study, the works in the new Matthew gallery are meant to be expressions of worship that inspire worship in others. The artwork is not meant to be viewed literally or to take the place of reading Scripture. They are one person’s perspective – potentially from a radically different cultural context than your own – sharing how God spoke to them through His Word.
Most of you share in your discussion group how God speaks to you by using words. These artists are doing the same thing through a visual medium.
Our hope is the art galleries will first and foremost glorify God. Our prayer is they will drive you to worship and to see Scripture in a fresh way that breathes new life and meaning into stories you might have read a hundred times.
The gallery also serves as a colorful example of how we are knit together into a beautiful tapestry with our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world who see things from various cultural perspectives. Ultimately, that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing that can only be created by the Spirit of Almighty God.
BSF Creative Director
Bryan Belknap serves as Creative Director at BSF, leading a team of creative professionals designing the videos, marketing, social media, graphic design and events that serve, encourage and inspire Bible Study Fellowship’s members and leaders. Prior to joining BSF, Bryan was an award-winning screenwriter, producer and director working for companies as far-ranging as Group Publishing, LIONSGATE, Lifeway, SONY, and DreamWorks. Bryan, a second generation BSFer, and his wife Jill are both proudly watching their son continue the BSF tradition.