Creative Christianity

Page 2D of my Monday USA Today stuck in my mind as I walked on my treadmill, logging the self-imposed mandatory 3-mile goal. I just turned 55 and my thoughts went from memories of past birthdays, to gratitude for my present blessings, to thoughts about what the future might hold. That is when Page 2D crept into my treadmill moments and into today’s blog post.

The Headline for page 2D reads “Health and Behavior.” The two stories on the page:

1.  “Gunplay explodes on PG-13 screens. Violence now exceeds the level found in R-rated movies.”

2.  “Research opens windows into the creative brain. Thinking differently can be cultivated, neuroscientists say…

As my treadmill entered the 2-mile count, I started to think about those articles and my thoughts created this blog post. Earlier that morning I had heard a news report about a 16-year-old’s birthday party in Houston that resulted in two people being shot to death. The article about the PG-13 movies discussed how Hollywood has gradually increased the violence in the PG-13 movies to the point that they have now become more graphic than many movies with stricter ratings.

I appreciate the effort of the Hollywood politics that cause movie stars to “take a stand” on things like bullying and gun control. It is, however, ludicrous to think that there is any power to their position unless they bring their own industry into the brightest of spotlights. Violent, blockbuster movies transform gun-carrying psychopaths into popular, wealthy celebrities with too much money and too much attention. Two families are grieving two sixteen year olds that should have had their entire lives ahead of them. Is there a correlation?

The second article I read would suggest there is. A panel discussion about creativity and the brain was offered by the Society for Neuroscience. Several points were made about why some people are creative and imaginative, and why others might not be. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist said, “Imagination is the cornerstone of creativity: It’s pretty hard to conceive that anyone could be creative without a rich imagination.” Later in the article Kay Redfield, a John Hopkins’ professor of psychiatry said that people with mental illnesses tended to be more creative than the general population. Shelley Carson, a Harvard researcher said, “The brain is a creativity machine. You just need to know how to manipulate the software to make it work for you.”

The most compelling statement for me was this: “Imagination depends on memory.” If people have filled their minds with violence, especially from a young age, what memories are producing their creativity? If their imaginations are born from creativity, what do people “imagine” themselves doing? And, if a person’s mind and character are weak, what actions are produced by those creative thoughts? The answers may be the lead stories tonight on the evening news.

The treadmill hit mile three and I knew what I wanted to say to my readers today. I’m a Christian and believe in the Creator God…who “created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). We are created in the image of our Creator but we do not yet have the perfection of his character. God has blessed us with the ability to reason, think, create and imagine – but he has also blessed us with the right to choose. Could it be that Christians need to become more “creative” with our Christianity?

People flock to violent movies because they are compelling, popular and cause them to escape their realities for a time. Unfortunately, the movies have to become a little more violent each time to continue to be creative and entertaining. And there will always be people whose weaker minds confuse imagination and reality. The darkness is attractive. Satan and those who walk with him have been very “creative” in recent years.

Why isn’t Christianity the most exciting, creative force in the world? Why don’t we offer heaven as the most plausible escape from earthly realities? Christians have the most “creative” story to tell. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When Jesus comes into someone’s life they are born again. Why isn’t that the most compelling story for our planet?

How “creative” are you with your witness? Does your new life in Christ intrigue people, or does it bore them? You have the most important, exciting news to share with this world. Spend some time with your Creator today. Imagine the glory and perfection of heaven. Think about your past. Who would you be today if God had not saved you and recreated you for heaven? Imagine standing before Jesus and telling him how grateful you are for his sacrifice of love. Then, imagine your future when you will dwell in his glorious presence forever.

The world needs some creative Christians who will shine light into the increasing darkness. Pray with King David and ask God to “create in you a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within you” (Psalm 51:10). My last thought after my 3-mile treadmill excursion with God was: If someone were to ask me what I want for my birthday this year it would be this: I want my readers to imagine themselves to be the most creative people on this planet – because they are children of the Creator God. Then I would like for each of you to light up this dark world with your creative Christianity. Now, imagine blessing my birthday by having an amazingly wonderful, fruit-filled day!

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