The God we love and serve is breathtakingly creative, speaking to us powerfully through what He’s made. He uses creative ways to get our attention, show us our need of Him, teach us how to live, fight for our affections and call us to Himself. In this time of transition and loosening restrictions, how might we also creatively minister to those around us and reach out with the message of Jesus, guided by scripture and the Holy Spirit?

King David sang about how God speaks to us in Psalm 19, starting with a meditation on His glorious creation:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”

Then, what seems like a straightforward praise song looking at the natural world, becomes a celebration of God’s law in the Torah:

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The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

As one Bible commentary puts it, the thought of the sun’s scorching heat leads to the next section: the searching and pure law of the Lord.” David didn’t interpret the light and beauty he saw in the natural world through his own lens, but instead remembered the brightness of God’s wisdom in the scriptures. He pored over God-breathed words which not only spoke physical life into being but were crucial for spiritual life too. David allowed God’s fingerprints in creation to point him to their source.

As landscape painter Peronel Barnes explains: God knows creation is a way for people to see and respond to Him. It’s around us all the time for us to experience and engages each of our five senses. God in His generosity makes Himself abundantly available all the time. He’s presenting Himself in all He’s made. It’s like saying, Hey, what about this? What about Me?’ Psalm 65:8 shows that dawn and dusk are asking how will you worship?’ It’s a direction as well as a demonstration.”

Surrounded by God’s creative ministry

In Job 38 – 40, God again ministers through His creativity, when He asks poor Job:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand […] do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? […] Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?”

After a whistle-stop tour, a few glimpses of God’s creativity at work in the world were enough to convict, humble and bring Job to a place of worship, humility and awe: I am unworthy — how can I reply to you?”

God didn’t give Job an essay on the reasons for suffering, but He demonstrated His wisdom through carefully crafted birds, animals and even the wonder of snow. This has a deep spiritual effect on Job, teaching him to trust and worship.

God's wisdom and our weakness

Watching nature documentaries or going for walks in nature during lockdown has reminded me time and again how creative God is. It might seem unnecessary for there to be so many different species and variations of one animal or type of plant, or so many stars, but God has a lot to say to us through it all. He delights in creating amazing things that can humble us when we look at them.

Like Job, it can feel uncomfortable for us to see our weakness in comparison to God’s power. Just looking at how big the sky or ocean is can remind us that we are created creatures, and can shatter pride and self-importance. And, in the presence of such a mighty, generous God, rebellious acts against such a God seem senseless.

At its most glorious, the world around us speaks of God’s love and creativity. God uses a myriad of ways to call us to a place of repentance, praise, contrition and deeper love for Him. The order and beauty in the world gives us a tiny taste of the divine reason and creative order in the mind of God; and if we let the Holy Spirit, He enables us to respond in humility and worship to the God we meet in the scriptures. And in turn, God is ministering in creative ways through us to others.

Creative ministry in a time of change

But what does this mean for the church in this season? We find ourselves in a bittersweet time of challenge and change, an in-between time, both in terms of restrictions, and spiritually. We’re not only waiting and wondering about a so-called summer of fun”, and an end to social distancing, but also on the solid hope of heaven. But this in-between phase doesn’t have to be wasted.

In this time of coronavirus, when we have the chance to rebuild, what can the church learn from the creative ways God uses to minister to us? In this time of pain, restlessness and change, can we use creative expressions to point to the source of comfort, peace and steadfastness? And how is God using the church and Christians in the arts to do this already?

To find out some answers to these questions, I spoke with four inspiring Christians in creative ministries.


Creative ministry: Explore the series

This reflection is part of a series on creative ministry for this season of challenge and change, featuring four inspiring Christians in creative ministries.

You can click through to the next articles in the series below, where Christian in creative ministries share their thoughts on these questions:

Creative ministry: Capturing God’s generous creation

Creative ministry: Capturing God’s generous creation

I had a conversation with landscape artist Peronel Barnes to find out how God is speaking through His creation and the creativity of Christians in lockdown.
Creative ministry: A gateway to the gospel

Creative ministry: A gateway to the gospel

Jonathan Rea, creative director of New Irish Arts, shares how creativity helps Christians to connect with culture and open a gateway to the gospel.