When you hear the word culture what comes to mind? Art at the National Gallery? Popcorn at the movies? Pop music? Tradition? While culture includes all these things, it’s much more. Culture is everything around us, it’s the values or norms of life that influence what is done, how it’s done and how it’s perceived. Whether it be pop music or cream tea, each facet of culture is a result of creation brought to life by someone, or a group of people.
The definition of ‘create’ is “to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes”.
Culture is a result of creating.
God is a creator. In fact, He is The Creator. He made heaven and earth, filled space with galaxies and pointed stars in them like the backdrop of a beautiful painting. One of the most beautiful pictures of creation is that He made man from dust and breathed life into him. God’s creation was raw and unique. He set the playing field for humans to create culture and told man to work and multiply. It makes perfect sense that we resemble Him as humans, made in His image and followers of Christ. We are creators also and ought to be breathing life into dust – figuratively speaking – and painting beautiful backdrops on white canvases, too.
The Christian has the Holy Spirit and it changes everything. With being made in God’s image, or being human, comes ability – but with having His likeness, or Spirit, comes power, and that’s where things get really interesting. If we truly have this DNA, the real question isn’t: “Should we create?” but: “What do we create, and how much?” – another way of asking this might be questioning what culture we are cultivating.
Here’s the key: our fundamental ability to create goes beyond our calling or skill-sets, it surpasses profession, interests or hobbies – it’s our DNA. We are all creators and therefore culture makers.
What’s the point here? We need to rouse creators, cultural contributors, shapers and influencers – this is what we need today more than ever. When I say creator I’m not referring to ‘creatives’ as we know them, although they’re included. This is referring to every believer – the quiet ones, the unknown ones, the ‘non-creatives’, the thinkers and the pew-warmers .We were made to create and He has given us His power through the Holy Spirit. How we create is another question. For some it might be design, for others it’s fresh ideas, and still others it’s creating organisational processes that facilitate further creation.
People often confuse the word ‘creator’ with the word ‘creative’, and therefore disqualify themselves. This is not the right way to look at things and the right perspective provides us a roadmap to play our role in seeing culture enriched and hearts and minds built up and transformed.
We have a strong heritage in Britain, forerunners who created and therefore cultivated culture, we have clues for us to follow. C.S Lewis, Blaise Pascal, Guternberg, Fanny Crosby. They all left signposts that shout out: “Create! Bring what’s in, out! Cultivate! Participate! Contribute!”
Their faith spurred on action and helped shape their contribution – their work preceded them and kept the voice of their faith alive. We need modern creators. We need dreamers creating good fruit that essentially breathes life into culture.
This is the call for 2015 and beyond: a new manifesto to live as creators and cultivators of good culture – good fruit. If I’m honest, it’s actually an old manifesto that needs a slight reintroduction:
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16 NLT)
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”. (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
So this is our 2015 Manifesto: let us bear good fruit, live lives as creators and shape good culture.