This is the sixth and final value that our church has recently adopted. The process by which we discerned and distilled the values was using an exercise I call ‘The Ideal Church Exhibition’. Groups, made up of diverse people from across the church, worked together to draw ‘The Ideal Church’ – where the only limit is our imagination. Behind what was drawn are values, so we looked for consistent themes across the different drawings and then looked to express those values in words.
There were drawings of people enjoying themselves.
There were drawings of people expressing themselves artistically.
The drawings that showed the imagination of those who drew them.
So ‘playfully creative’ became a value. If I am honest I wasn’t expecting it, but I love it.
Like Jesus: enjoying and appreciating life in all its fullness, using our God-given talents to express ourselves and to communicate his truth, and looking imaginatively with the eyes of faith to discern and follow God’s will.
God has given us life, and he longs for us to enjoy it. I know that life can be tough, but my experience has been that it is sometimes those who have the toughest circumstances that have the broadest smile. I think of my time spent with a church in a Harare township and those people LOVED life! What I have seen and realised is that if you have never had video games, computers, TV and mobile phones and if all you have is some dirt to play in then you use that dirt imaginatively. It can become a football pitch, a crocodile-filled river, a place to fly over…
If you’re going through one of life’s dark valleys at the moment then I understand that this may feel difficult for you, and I would hate for you to feel guilt because of what I have written, that’s not my intention. If emotional illness or mental ill health is clouding your ability to see the light, then I pray that you will have people around you who will come and simply be with you. Perhaps in them you may see a glimpse of the playfully creative Jesus who loves you without limit.
What are your talents and gifts? Don’t be shy, admit them to yourself. You may not be a world-renowned artist, a famous actor or even a fair-to-middling illusionist. But there are things you are better at than other people. You are certainly the world best at being you. But you may be an encourager, a supporter, an esteem-builder, an imaginer, a story-teller, a joke-teller… what are you good at? You can take those things and offer them to God as an act of worship as you perform them – if you like, taking what he’s given you and celebrating it with him.
You may be able to use the unique blend of gifts and talents that are yours to help others see God in you.
Martin Luther (the Reformation chap, not Martin Luther King) is reported to have said, “If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.” Well, my hope is that we can get in lots of practice together as church now.