As God breathed his breath into humanity, he imparted in us a soul. The Hebrew word is nephesh meaning ?soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion?. It?s distinct from the other parts of what makes us human.
Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian teacher and author from the first half of the twentieth century, noted the soul as one of three parts of our humanity.
1. Body – our flesh, the physical part of us
2. Soul – the mind, will, and emotions
3. Spirit – the eternal part of who we are that communes with God
Most of the time we think of creativity, we think of engaging the soul?the mind and emotions?to create or experience a work. We create every day using our soul. We think of good ideas to solve problems. We feel something deeply, and out of that place write a story, a song or a poem.
But creativity from the soul is only the beginning of what we?re capable of. What would it look like for us to engage that deeper, eternal part of who we are?the spirit?in our creative work?[quote]Creativity is ?bringing about that which didn?t previously exist.[/quote]
My working definition of creativity is ?bringing about that which didn?t previously exist?. And we accomplish this by engaging the soul and/or spirit.
So what does it mean to create from the spirit? We see this deep creativity throughout the whole of scripture. As the Israelites wandered through the wilderness, God provided manna supernaturally for them. Six days a week, this bread fell from heaven to provide sustenance for the people as they traveled. The name, manna, tells us something about this heavenly food. When literally translated manna means ?what is it?.
This supernatural provision of God was so out of the ordinary, so unexpected, and came by such uncommon means that its name reflected its mysterious, divine origin. The Israelites had nothing to call it other than to recognize its strangeness in the form of a question every time they referenced it.
When we create from the soul, we can create some pretty compelling things. But when we create from the spirit, the things we create point to their divine origin.[quote]When we create from the spirit, the things we create point to their divine origin.[/quote]
Creating from the spirit begins with intimacy with the Father. Jesus, as our example of intimacy with God, said that he did what he saw the Father doing and said what he heard the Father saying. Jesus existed in a state of deep intimacy with God at all times, and out of that intimacy flowed deep creativity. Each time Jesus exhibited creativity by manifesting peace, speaking truth, delivering a word of knowledge, or performing a miracle, it was because he was joining in with the divine plan God was and is unfolding in the universe. He had a deep connection in the spiritual realm and was able to manifest spiritual realities in the physical.
And in the same way the Israelites were amazed by the manna, so were the people who encountered Jesus. Not only did Jesus demonstrate to us the power of life lived in the Spirit. He commissioned us into a life of Kingdom-manifesting creativity. But that creativity necessitates an intimate relationship with God in the spirit.
In creating, we have our habits, our methodologies which each reflect varying levels on a spectrum of soul- to spirit-birthed creativity.
On the far end of the soul side of the spectrum we have something like:
- Browsing the internet, looking for something cool, and replicating it.
This is the epitome of recreating what we see and requires little to no actual intimacy with God. We simply engage our senses and bodies to remake that which has already been made.
As we continue on the spectrum toward creating from the spirit, we see:
- Going to a conference, seeing what they do, and recreating it.
- Being inspired by another creative work and riffing off it.
- Creating from a personal experience.
- Accessing our mind and emotions to create something unique.
- Employing imagination to devise a story beyond true events.
Each of these things require an increasing amount of connectivity at least with one?s self. It necessitates a deep level of consciousness and willingness to engage one?s mind and emotions. But, at some point, we cross a threshold into divine territory and deliver to the earth creativity that is unleashed from God?s divine storehouse resulting in the other end of the spectrum:
- Being inspired by the Holy Spirit in a specific moment to make or do something that has a specific divine purpose for a specific person or group of people.
And it?s at this moment we enter into ?manna? creating.The poignancy of our work is so meaningful and applicable to our audience, they are astounded by the message we deliver and the medium by which it comes.
We can make long careers impressing people with our soul-derived artistic endeavors?leaning on our own understanding to bring about an expected outcome. But if you and I desire to rise up into the calling of God on the Church and on ourselves, we must enter into a new depth of intimacy with Him. Out of that intimacy will flow supernatural power to exhibit creativity in every facet of life that manifests the Kingdom, draws people closer to Jesus, and brings glory to the author of it all. Go create.