Why You Are Creative: Art and the Image of God

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Genesis 1 tells us that God created humanity in his image. It is a description that carries a lot of weight. As bearers of the image of God, we are God’s representatives on earth, reflecting his love to the world around us, and reflecting our praises back up to God. Just as God wants community and relationship with us, so too are we made for community and relationship with one another.

More than just reflecting the knowledge of God to our world, we are also bearers of his likeness. All the things that God is, he has created us to be as well. As God is loving, he desires us to love. As God is just, he calls us to seek justice. As God is patient, joyful, selfless, so too are made to be. However it is that we view God, we must remember that those traits are a part of us. If we recognize that there are characteristics in our humanity that point back to our Creator, then we should embrace them in ourselves and celebrate them in others.

Scripture say many things about who God is and what God does, but the very first thing ever we learn about God is that God is creative. The second word of Genesis is the Hebrew word bara, which translates to “he created.”

The first action God takes is to create something. We are not given a reason, and there is nothing which suggests that creating profited God in any way. We are left to assume that he did it just because he wanted to.

So. If humanity is made in the image of God, and if the very first thing that we are told God did was to create something, then it stands to reason that creativity is as vital to our humanity as any of the other traits which we say are Godly. What’s more, is that Scripture repeats this theme throughout, in various ways. God is one who renews, one who redeems, one who transforms. These are all traits that carry a deep connotation of creativity as well as love.

I have made art for literally as long as I can remember. As an artist, I am struck by how often people say something like, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” or “God didn’t give me any artistic gift whatsoever.” I have also been confronted with comments that suggest that creative pursuits are frivolous, impractical, unprofitable, and merely flights of fancy.

How sad it is to believe that there is a part of God’s personality that has somehow been left out of oneself. How arrogant it is to suggest that an activity in which God participates from the very beginning is somehow not worthy of our time.

Creativity is indeed the image of God.

Now, I recognize that not everyone shares in the same gifts and talents, but creativity does not necessarily mean “great artist.” Creativity is the ability to look at something as it is, see it for what it could be, and then make it happen.

That could mean writing a song or it could mean painting a mural. It could mean building a worship team or it could mean starting a church. It could mean finding a new way to reach the homeless in your community. It could mean discovering a new way to relate to that person at work who you just can’t stand.

As an artist, I feel a deep conviction to help people understand that, yes, they are in fact creative. It is just a matter of unlocking that creativity and setting it loose on the things people care about.

As people in ministry, we all have a responsibility to help people see the depth and breadth of the image of God within themselves. No one should ever believe that God left something out of them that he has within himself. God wants us to experience life as fully and as connected to him as we can, and that is why we are created in his image. God would not have bothered to create anyone that he did not intend to be complete.

And as Christians, we have a responsibility to embrace all of the goodness of God and reveal it to the world around us so that they too might join in. It does no one any good to hide or stifle any part of God’s image; God is most glorified when we embrace his image in ourselves for all that it is, and allow that image to transform and renew everyone we meet.


Joel Mooneyhan is a freelance artist living in Atlanta, GA. He has spent his life honing artistic skills across various media, including drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, pottery, and photography. He is an avid writer and sometimes musician, as well as a devoted theologian.