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So you think receiving’s difficult? Sometimes, there is nothing more awkward than giving a gift to someone!
“Should I sneak it under their door?” “Will they feel really awkward that I know they’re struggling?” “Will they feel like a charity case?” Aaaargh!
As someone who has often been inspired to share my possessions with others (Acts 4:32-36), I’ve often grappled with this issue.
I remember pulling up outside a friend’s house. Actually it wasn’t their house – they’d been in house-sit after house-sit for a couple of years because they didn’t own a home and their ministry was one of living by faith. I knew times were hard and they hadn’t made it to church that evening. We’d felt gutted when we heard they were having a hard time but we weren’t sure what to do as there weren’t many shops open on a Sunday evening. We’d gone round to my mother-in-law’s and she’d found a number of food items she didn’t need, and then we’d popped by the only open shop we could find to grab some bacon, eggs, bread and milk. Now we were sitting outside in the car, with our hamper, debating.
Should we go in and say hi? Maybe they needed a hug and encouraging/praying with? Hmmm, they hadn’t come to church so maybe it wasn’t a day for seeing people… Should we leave this stuff on the doorstep so that it was out all night when they might need it now? Should we ring the doorbell and drive off?
We agonised for a good while in the car before we worked out we should just pray. On previous occasions we’d felt it was good to ring the doorbell, give hugs, have a cup of tea and just be with them in their tough time… This time we just left it on the doorstep, prayed for them, and asked God to prompt them to open the door. With slight reservations from our ‘human wisdom mind-sets’, we left it and drove off.
The next morning we got a text. They’d discovered the parcel before bed and had had their first meal of the day: bacon, eggs, toast etc – just what they’d needed.
It still breaks my heart thinking of it. The stuff we gave was really simple – we didn’t have the resource to get anything fancy on a Sunday evening – but it was the delivery that felt really important that time.
Sometimes friends really need to know you’re there and you care and that they’re part of a family. Sometimes, we’ve got it really wrong and have squirmed as we’ve watched friends squirm. Sometimes we’ve realised that our motives weren’t actually right just as we handed over the gift and felt a slight nagging feeling when the reaction wasn’t what we’d expected. Sometimes we’ve seen relationships change and good friends start viewing us in a weird way that neither of us seemed to be able to vocalise and get past. Occasionally, we’ve found friends have been grateful and have felt embarrassed that they can’t give something in return, even though we feel they give us loads in other ways. Often, we’ve found it so much easier to slip an anonymous card through the door and rest assured that the person would know that God is their provider and has heard their cry for provision.
But, every now and then, we’ve been absolutely blown away when we’ve prayed about how to give and have modelled generosity and God’s economy well. I’m still not entirely sure what the rules are – maybe there are none – but we’ve generally found that God knows what each person needs and if you allow him to test your motives and prompt you about how to handle each gift, it really can bless both the receiver and the giver!
What parts of this post could you relate to? Are you used to that awkward feeling when you give a gift, or have you nailed how to read situations? Do you ever give in a way that could make you, and your recipient, uncomfortable? If your answer’s no, is that a good or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments.
This blog is part 4 in The Art of Giving email series. Want to sign up to receive all ten emails for free? Enter your email address here.
Receiving is hard. We’re raised in a world where gaining and acquiring – receiving, in other words – is only acceptable if you work hard and earn it, or if you somehow ‘get lucky’.
Receiving because you’re genuinely in need – when you can no longer rely on yourself – is frowned upon. There is the temptation to feel like a failure; a charity case; dependent.
But the Bible says we’re all receivers, and we’re all in genuine need. ‘For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.’ John 1: 16.
When I was growing up, I was fairly proud of the fact that I paid my way. I got a job at a young age, learned how to save, and enjoyed spending money on myself and others. I was raised with the Destiny’s Child anthem ‘Independent Women’ ringing in my ears and I was determined to rely only on myself.
So when I became a single mother at the age of 23, and then spent the following three years locked in a cripplingly expensive court case, everything within me fought to try to preserve my pride. I tried to carry on as normal; juggling a job with motherhood, studies, bills, learning to drive and running my own home.
I gladly accepted practical help – it was a blessing to have family and friends around who could babysit when I needed to get an essay written. But financial help? Absolutely no way. It was only when I was faced with a £3000 barrister’s bill and only £1500 to my name, that I began to realise the mess I was in. I was at the end of myself. I couldn’t magic up the money. My self-reliance had essentially counted for nothing, and slowly God began calling me back to a revelation of his generous, undeserved love.
When my friend learned of my situation and offered to lend me some money, my first reaction was deep shame. How did I get to be so in need? Even though I’d be paying the money back, their generosity overwhelmed me in every sense of the word. I accepted because I had no choice, but I was utterly determined to pay back the full amount as fast as I could so that I wouldn’t feel indebted to him. I had been conditioned to see receiving as the worst thing in the world, even though I’d spent many years previously on the flip side – seeing how blessed it was to give.
That legal bill was the first of many. More money had to be found from more places. But more friends and family stepped in in various ways, enveloping me and my daughter in a type of grace and kindness that left me lost for words. That year, I learned what it meant to accept love, to receive help and to allow God to be my strength. It was an important, humbling lesson.
It mirrored a truth that’s hard for all of us to accept sometimes: Jesus gave us something we didn’t deserve. It’s something we abuse daily, reject, misunderstand and often don’t even fully recognise. I wonder if some of us grapple so hard with receiving salvation because our pride would prefer us to believe that we can save ourselves? That was certainly true of me. Grace is an incredibly difficult thing to comprehend, and sometimes it takes our very lives to be shaken out from the edges before we can start to receive it.
The Bible teaches that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, and that’s true. It’s definitely harder to receive, but there’s blessing in that too beyond simply receiving whatever it is you’ve been given. Arguably it’s impossible to know how to truly give, unless you’ve first learnt how to receive.
So today consider how you receive. Is it graciously, with thanks? Is it reluctantly, with pride? Is there an area of your life where you couldn’t bear to be dependent upon others? Ask yourself why. Consider also how you give, bearing in mind the potentially strong emotional responses of your recipient. Are you giving sensitively?
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Judas: desire at the door
Whenever I meet new people I tend to get a little over excited, talk too loud, too fast and too much. So when I attended my first home fellowship group at the new church, I took plenty of deep breaths and told myself to listen.
Minutes into a discussion of the seven deadly sins, a primary school teacher spoke up.
“My students don’t sin.”
I violated my own rule, asking:
“When your students consciously choose a wrong behaviour, how do you address it? What happens when they misbehave in class?”
“Well, it’s like last week. I had a little boy who I was sure was taking another little boy’s crisps at lunch. This went on for two weeks. I asked him whether he was sure that he wasn’t taking the crisps, because maybe he was hungry or it was an accident. He denied it for about a week and a half, until, finally he admitted it was him. It turned out that his parents didn’t want him to have crisps at lunch, but he really wanted them, so he took them. He admitted his mistake, I spoke with his parents and now he has crisps at lunch. It ended up being a really good learning experience for everyone.”
“But isn’t this sin?” I asked. “Wasn’t the boy controlled by his desire?”
If we want to understand sin, then we could do worse than start by looking at the story of Cain and Abel, as told in Genesis 4:
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."
That word ‘crouching’ is an interesting one, and is a translation of the Hebrew word ‘röbëtz’. It connotes an overwhelming desire, like a predator awaiting its prey.
Sin desires all of us. All of me. It starts on my outside, my door, and then enters and controls. I see the crisps and I want them, so I take them and then I keep on taking them. Once the desire has got in, I find it hard to stop. At some time in each of our lives, haven’t we all struggled to tame the overwhelming desires that take us further from God?
Sin - like the desire that accompanies it - always starts small, even when it grows big. While Judas ended up overwhelmed and overrun by evil intent, we can see the roots earlier on in his story, when (in John 12:4-7) he questions the anointing of Jesus by Mary with expensive perfume:
Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.
When Judas asks ‘why’, he is not interested in the rationale behind Jesus’ actions. He’s interested in the profit. He knew the cost of the perfume, but not its anointing value. Even further back in Luke 9 we read of how he heals the sick, preaches the kingdom and performs miracles. What changed?
Judas let sin crouch at his door and enter his heart. He let it master, control, and finally destroy him.He served his sin and betrayed Jesus, becoming an ugly steward in the process.
Perhaps Judas was fearful of living day by day, moment by moment and being materially poor. After all, fear can be a compelling motivator. It can freeze us from acting and hold us hostage. Yet that fear-induced inactivity can so easily control us.
Like so many of us, Judas failed to deal with the problem when it was in its infancy. What are the issues in our lives that need to be addressed? We can’t take the smallest bad desire for granted. If we do, the desire will take us.
The primary teacher and I disagreed on the whether to call it sin, but we could agree on this one thing; that in asking why the boy desired the crisps she was beginning the process of dealing with the issue.
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This blog is part 3 in The Art of Giving email series. Want to sign up to receive all ten emails for free? Enter your email address here.
I recently attended the funerals of two amazing people; both of whom left gaping holes when they exited this world before 65. Listening to their families and friends telling stories of how much both had packed into their years, and the inspiring ways they’d lived to serve God and others, I found myself feeling gutted that I hadn’t known them better. I remember sitting and listening at one of the funerals and thinking “if I’d known this about this person earlier, I would have asked them to mentor me – they are so inspiring.”
On a similar note, I know for a fact that there are amazing acts of generosity going down regularly in my church family, and yet I don’t often get to hear of them and be blessed / inspired / challenged in my own life by other people’s example.
Matthew 6:1-3 says:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I understand that this passage has often been the reason for people not sharing their inspiring stories, and I totally respect that there are different interpretations and teachings on passages… Personally, I believe you can read this passage two ways. There’s the way that focusses on the instructions: ‘be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others…’ and ‘So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets…’ And then there’s a way that focusses on the motivation: ‘…to be seen by them’ and ‘to be honoured by others.’ I wonder whether it’s possible to share stories and experiences, without the details of the nitty gritty, in order to inspire others – to pass the baton to the next generation?
Take, for example, the couple who mentored my husband and me. I don’t actually remember them telling me any specific stories about gifts they’d given – even though they live a generous lifestyle - but they told us about amazing ways God had provided for them through anonymous donations and they taught us some excellent principles on how to hear God and trust Him in the area of finances.
I believe there are two ways to learn radical generosity. One is to be on the receiving end of mind-blowing generosity until what you’ve seen modelled becomes your blueprint for life. The other is to hear the type of story or experience that gives you goosebumps; fills you with joy; makes you start to wonder if there’s something bigger out there than your current experience… until you’re hungry to see that kind of transformation in your own story.
So, as a plea from a generation that is really hungry for inspiration: I totally respect your privacy and understand that there might be some things that you struggle to share because your motives aren’t quite where you’d like them to be yet but that inspires me too! I don’t want to know amounts, or specifics, but I would love to sit at your feet and hear a few of your best stories, or ones you’ve heard from others. I want to hear about what excites you and where you’ve lived in the fullness of life. Please don’t keep it all bottled up until I hear it all at your funeral – I need your inspiration now.
Has God given you wisdom in a particular area, which you could be sharing to inspire others? Or are there people you admire whose stories you’d like to hear? Why not meet up with them and ask some of your inquisitive questions? If you click, why not ask them to mentor you for a longer period?
Following Stewardship’s support of the fleshandblood campaign, our very own Linda gave her 50th blood donation this week in celebration of a very special milestone birthday, and was presented with a gold badge and pen by the blood donation staff. Congrats Linda!
In this brand new series, Charlie Osewalt explores the many stewards in the bible: the good, the bad and the ugly. Each week we'll bring you a new study in two parts; a shorter blog post and a longer downloadable PDF. This week Charlie looks at an example of a good steward - the little boy.
“Where are the boots?”
“Where are the boots?”
As a department head in an inner city school, I wasn’t used to seeing a parent show up at 7am, let alone this particular mother, who had never even shown up at school before. But it was 7am and here she was, right in front of my desk.
“Where is Jasmine? Where are the boots?”
Slowly I got the story. Jasmine, her 16-year-old daughter, was living with her grandmother. Her mother told me that she no longer had custody but that, when it was Jasmine’s birthday the week before, she had visited, found out what she wanted, and bought her a pair of Ugg boots. It all sounded good to me, until the Mum got to the reason for her early arrival; she had changed her mind and wanted the boots back. Right now; off her daughter’s feet.
Looking at Jasmine’s mother, I thought of my own Mum.
In my family I grew up with some basic rules. One of them was this: no expectations. I grew up believing that a child should never expect an adult to follow through on their promises. I’d learned the hard way that if I wanted to avoid disappointments it was better to have no expectations.
The thing is, children are naturally full of expectation. They start life without worry about ‘how’ something will happen and they trust openly and completely, driven on by an instinctive impulse to rely on the goodness and care of others.
You can see this in John’s gospel, when the writer retells the story of the feeding of the five thousand. The little boy with the five small barley loaves and two small fish expects something to happen when Andrew calls him to Jesus with his basket. He trusts that this adult Jesus is special and he assumes that He really will make good on both His promise and His teaching. Our boy, surely between the ages of eight and ten, is thrilled that Jesus’s disciple picked him to come up front, in the spotlight, close to his Master and teacher. Can’t you just see his irrepressible smile and fidgety limbs as he hands over his bread and fish, as well as his trust, to Jesus?
The disciples, on the other hand, see disappointment coming. “But how far will they go among so many?” Andrew asks as he brings the boy forward (John 6:9). Earlier the twelve had even asked Jesus to send the crowd away early to find food themselves - such was their concern about how bad things could get (Mark 6:35).
Yet Jesus fills them all. Five thousand men, countless women and children, “all ate and are satisfied.”(Luke 9:1). In the multiple leftovers, twelve baskets of broken bread, there is the promise of more to come. How happy must that boy have felt?
Unusually, each of the four gospel writers relates this narrative, I think because it characterizes the essence of Jesus: His compassion, His kingdom, His power to transform and multiply that which we see as fixed and unchangeable (Matthew 14:14). Only John mentions the boy. The other writers focus on the miraculous feeding, but John, probably the youngest of the disciples, sees another miracle: a child emptying all he has while being filled with Gospel expectations.
I want to be like that little boy. I want to be like a child who can empty all they have into the hands of someone who understands. ‘No expectations’ is such a foolish way to live, whether you’re a child or an adult.
All this was in my mind as I looked at Jasmine’s Mum. I thought about the fact that, only last week she had given just about everything she had to buy her daughter an extravagant gift in an effort to show her love. She had emptied herself, laid it all out for Jasmine. But my guess was that the emptiness, that vulnerability, felt awkward and uncomfortable. In its place came anxiety, which filled her. And so here she was, wanting the boots back, wanting the emptiness to go away.
I told her that Jasmine always got to school late. She certainly wouldn’t be in by 9, maybe 10? Would Mum like to wait?
She started to say that she would, but then something changed her mind.
“Can you talk to Jasmine about the boots?”
I said I would, but I knew that I wouldn’t say what she wanted. As she was leaving, she gave me a picture of Jasmine wearing the new boots.
“This is what they look like. Get them for me.”
I repeated that I would talk to Jasmine when she got in.
I never saw Mum again. Jasmine kept the boots. It was only right that she could expect to keep a gift like that.
Want to go deeper? You can download the PDF below for more:
As of today, you can walk into your local Starbucks and order a 'suspended coffee' - a new way to be generous that has seen some traction in the US, and appears to be making its way across the ocean. Starbucks issued a short statement on their Facebook page today, explaining:
"When you pay for a suspended coffee we’ll give coffee of that value to our longstanding charity partner, Oasis, who will then distribute it through its community hubs across the UK. We’ll also match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to Oasis which will help provide warmth and comfort to those in need."
Daniel Jones, head of Business Development at Stewardship, said, 'New ways to be generous on a day-to-day basis are cropping up all the time. You can now give when you visit an ATM, when you pay for your weekly supermarket shop...and now when you order a Starbucks coffee.
We've heard about other church-run coffee shops adopting the suspended coffee idea, and we're hoping it'll become a nation-wide movement.'
What are your thoughts? Would you buy a suspended coffee?
Having heard stories of even the most unlikely people being generous, I have a suspicion that we’re all capable of it. It makes sense - since we’re all made in the image of a generous God (whether we choose to recognise it or not) – that we would all be able to exhibit some of those characteristics. (Genesis 1:26-30)
However, Romans 12:6-8 reads:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
So, it would seem that some of us possess a particular ‘gift’ in giving. We could probably all think of one of those people if we took 5 minutes now. They just seem to always be doing something for others, thinking of others, giving to others…
But if we all have some level of generosity in our blood – regardless of how much we’ve practised it – what is it that kick-starts our generosity into action?
Is it the story we hear that we can connect to on a personal level? Is it a reminder that we have so much to be grateful for… or do we feel guilty for having so much? Is it about having our heart-strings tugged, or hearing of injustices that rile us into response?
The London riots in 2011 were often blamed on a breakdown in community and disillusionment among many. However, as some responded by adding their own frustrations to the mix, another community formed out of a different response. #riotcleanup was a community that formed on Twitter, and unlike the other groups that were promoting looting and violence through social media, they came together and organised parties for tidying up the mess; looking after shopkeepers whose livelihoods were destroyed, and supporting police.
After the recent, tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, it was a ray of hope to hear of strangers looking after one another and marathon runners dashing to hospital to donate blood for the victims of the bombings.
In both stories, communities united in inspiring acts of generosity. On both occasions, they were formed in response to a major situation that had brought people together.
In Acts 4: 32-35 we read:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Here was a community that was brought together in response to another major circumstance. They were unified and had one purpose. It says that God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them!
If people of differing backgrounds, and not necessarily Christians, can be brought together to display incredible acts of generosity in response to something they care about, what are the possibilities for those who are unified in God? Those who represent not just a community, but one that has God’s grace powerfully at work in it?
What if the best way to kick-start our generosity isn't just about us as individuals, but about gathering a community with a similar purpose?
When was the last time you geniunely felt concern for the state of the world? Was it the last time you watched the news? Perhaps it was a few days ago, when you realised just how different the world has become compared with the one you remember just a decade ago? In this week's 'going deeper', we see how the book of Jonah reveals God's heart for our wider concern.
Every London black cab driver dreams. All four I have met on hearing my New York accent ask: “what did you say mate?” And, “where in America are you from?” They all respond that they would like to visit NYC - my home. But where they really dream of going is Las Vegas. Some want to gamble, others to see the West. Lots of cheap good food and petrol for a fast rental convertible sound great to all. Vegas is their dream world.
If Vegas is a cabbie’s dream, Nineveh was Jonah’s nightmare. God called Jonah to go to the pagan city of Nineveh. This city was infamously renowned in the oriental world as an intensely cruel people and place. Jonah was understandably reluctant to go to Nineveh with God’s message of repentance for their cruel culture and behavior. This is what God wanted Jonah to do. But he didn’t. In fact, he got in a boat in the opposite direction. A great storm came, Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish for three days. He prayed for forgiveness and the Lord responded by having the fish spit him up. Jonah went on to Nineveh, he preached God’s message of repentance and the people repented! Jonah was a hero, except he still hated Nineveh and its people. He was not in God’s realised hope of people repenting; he was still in the nightmare of hate he had created for himself. He may no longer have been in the belly of a great fish, but he was still in darkness.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was
still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow
to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending
Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.
Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over
Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah
was very happy about the plant.
But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the
plant so that it withered.
When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the
sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die,
and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant,
though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight
and died overnight.
And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which
there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot
tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
God ends the book of Jonah with a question to Jonah “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” How do we know Jonah’s response to this question?
Jonah’s response is that he tells the world this unflattering story of his disobedience to God; his anger toward the people of Nineveh and then his indifference for all living things associated with the city. By telling this story, Jonah is sharing God’s message for us today: be concerned for the world and its people. We’ve received freely of God’s love, so how should we be stewarding it in our responses to others?
See this week's 40acts on the blog here.
This week over on 40acts, we've been making stuff, switching off our screens and plugging in to our creative resources within. In this edition of Going Deeper, Charlie looks at the source of our generosity and what we can learn from the ultimate Creator.
In an interview in January 2013, actor Brian Cox discussed a creative RSC theatre challenge which Terry Hands (then artistic director) had asked him to play: Titus (Andronicus).
“It was a play that everyone usually avoided-it’s a very difficult play to act…but I decided if I was going to do it, I might as well go for broke and not try to cover my butt. So I told Terry I’d do it only on the condition that he found someone [a director] who was relatively little-known, but cutting-edge. And so he found Deborah…”
Brian Cox knew the task of playing Titus was difficult, so he prepared by looking for someone who could inspire order from a complex situation.
Genesis 1:1-2 reads:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
What was the consequence of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters?
Incredible creativity (that keeps reproducing creativity) that still blesses us thousands of years later.
It gets better… Genesis 1:26-28 states:
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Children are known to imitate their parents and the principles modelled for them by their parents. If we are made in the image of a creator, what might this mean for our own creativity?
Matthew 14:15-21 is the story of Jesus feeding more than five thousand people. With five loaves and two fish, Jesus creates a feast, with abundant leftovers. With the added dimension of the spiritual realm, as Christians, what could our creativity look like outside of our ‘often two-dimensional’ mind sets?
Back to our story about Brian Cox… In the late 1980s, Deborah Warner rehearsed that difficult Shakespearean play, Titus Andronicus. As the director, she brought the cast together and asked them how they could creatively get across the opening scene with dual images of power and enslavement as a captured people marched into Rome. Finding two ladders lying around on set, she and the cast came up with the idea of handcuffing the four key prisoners to the rungs of the ladder as they carried in the conquering general, Titus, who was sitting on top of the ladder. The images of power and enslavement were effectively put forward. Brian Cox won the Lawrence Olivier Theatre Award for best actor and the production won for best play (1988).
We can be encouraged that when circumstances look chaotic; or even when we just fancy seeing what we’re capable of as creative beings – made in the image of God, with access to His resources – some of the best ideas can come out of the least likely places.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.