Christians are creative forces in the world.
By the word creative, I’m not referring to innovative idea-mongers or artsy collectives. To me, “creative” refers to calling into existence that which is not yet (ex nihilo, if you will). For Christ-followers, this creation and re-creation is our lifeblood – both in our very existence and every day as Christ makes us new. And thus we have this as our common responsibility and joy in a destructive world: to create that which is not yet, within our given spheres of influence. In a given situation, this could mean calling into existence beauty, truth, peace, grace, etc.
I find that the most difficult creative tool for me to master is my tongue. Which is unfortunate because it’s the foremost tool I’ve been given.
It seems sometimes that I absorbed everything about my Bible school upbringing that taught me to think critically and defend all that is excellent and right, but somehow practicing at gracious, honest dialogue slipped my mind. My tendency, in a pinch, is to either avoid conflict altogether or to verbally body-slam my adversary (for the record, that’s the only way I could ever body-slam anyone). Or, more often, I complain to my friends and family under the guise of venting about problems. There is no better excuse for gossip than being a verbal processor.
And here’s where creation comes in. First, to remind me that I am forgiven, redeemed, and free from the fear and pride that characterizes my communication. And second, to provide me with the motivation and the means to change.
Our words, in direct correlation to the power of the Word Himself, have the power to create or destroy. We have the opportunity to dignify or vilify, love or hate, lift up or ignore, seek to understand or seek to be understood, provide peace or impose stress. We have the power to breathe life or deal death with our words. And as Christ-followers the latter is not an option.
The motivating force behind a creative tongue is charity, otherwise known as, well, love (agape), but I’m using it for the connotation of leniency in judging others, especially when it comes to encountering their art. This requires perspective – crawling into another person’s viewpoint and making ourselves at home there – and the constant remembrance that blimey, God loves this person too.
When it comes to our tongues, it also involves shutting up and listening. Sometimes when our tongues hang out behind our teeth with nothing to do they end up having a nice little chat with our hearts and minds and maybe God, and end up speaking God’s words – i.e. words of creative power.
We can never forget that our daily interactions are not with philosophies and rhetoric – they are with real live humans created in the image of God and dearly loved by Him. When we talk with non-believers or believers about the art, culture, and events that surround us (no matter how broken they are) we should be creating, not destroying.