I survey the room, silently thanking the heavens that Pinterest didn’t exist during my days of shower-hosting. The event is a marvel, meticulously executed down to the smallest detail. An average house has been transformed into a fantasy of hand-lettered, fondant-draped, glitter-encrusted, burlap-and-calico-beribboned splendor. Even the straws in the vintage glasses scream party-planning awesomeness. Our host has crafted a gathering so visually stunning that the actual arrival of the baby seems at risk of being anticlimactic.
Yes, I have to acknowledge, this girl is creative. By all evidence, she is able to walk into a craft store and, instead of curling up in the fetal position, begin to assemble magical combinations of paint, paper, and pipe cleaners in ways that inspire and elevate the senses.
I hate her.
Okay, I don’t hate her—I admire her, begrudgingly. And I recognize that while I may not be the most creative shower host, I have been given other areas of creativity in which I have opportunity to shine. We all have. We call them our “areas of giftedness,” and they are always linked to human creativity. A gifted musician creates arrangements of notes that elevate our sense of hearing. A gifted poet creates arrangements of words that elevate our emotions. A gifted chef creates arrangements of flavors that elevate our sense of taste. A gifted artist creates arrangements of colors that elevate our sense of sight. Even those of us who would not call ourselves extraordinary in any of these areas recognize our ability to combine several average things into something above average. We take piles of data and turn them into pie charts. We take collections of metal and turn them into machines. We take eggs, butter, cheese, and onion and turn them into an omelet. We all create. We are not creation-optional beings.
But the extent of our creativity is limited by the simple truth that we are human. You could even argue that no one who has ever drawn breath is truly creative at all. Not Michelangelo, not Debussy, not I. M. Pei, not even my friend, the Baby Shower Ninja. We are all hacks, arrangers of Someone else’s palette of colors, wavelengths, and building blocks. The most creative human you know is a rip-off artist, shamelessly (gleefully?) rearranging and recombining existing materials into new forms. No one has ever truly created anything.
No one, that is, except God.
Unlike other books, the Bible does not take its sweet time to hook the reader. It stuns us with its opening line: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
God, who is himself uncreated, creates everything. Gathering no materials, pinning no swatches to mood boards, consulting no color wheels, God speaks, and the universe leaps into being. From nothing he creates something. Unlike humans who create by rearranging what exists, God creates simply by the power of his word, and where there was once nothing, something miraculously appears.
Unlike everything God has made, he himself has no origin. No one gave him life. He did not begin to be; he has simply always been. Before he created everything we know (and billions of things beyond our capacity to know), he was, existing in completeness. He is self-existent, depending on nothing or no one to imbue him with breath. Though “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), he requires nothing or no one to have life. He “has life in himself” (John 5:26). He who has no origin is the origin of life for all.
A. W. Tozer captures this idea beautifully:
Man is a created being, a derived and contingent self, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent each moment for his existence upon the One who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence.1
Derived and contingent. Utterly dependent. That’s us.
Without origin, the source of all life. Utterly independent. That’s God.
We humans must confess, “I am because he is.” Only God can say, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Jen Wilkin, None like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016).
We have just released a new Bible Study on the topic None Like Him.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.