There is a line somewhere between right and wrong. If right is black and wrong is white. Creativity is NOT gray. Or maybe it is?
But first commentary. One of my mentors blasted my last post because he has mentioned to me before that my pictures make my post difficult to share. Okay, he didn’t say share but I read in between the lines. He said, I read your post but I have a hard time taking you serious with the pictures. So here is me trying to look good. How did I do? Inspiration didn’t wait for me to get home. It hit me in the car, so I am sitting here penning what is coming because I don’t want it to fly away. If you find this piece insightful, please share with a friend and tell them to share with their friend too. I want to write to impact but I think I usually just write and hide it from anyone that I am afraid of seeing that side of my weird brain.
Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. — Matthew 22:21
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. — Matthew 5:17
What do these two passages have in common ?
I take a moment to walk in the shoes of the people around Jesus asking Him questions about taxes. I like to think that they wanted to do the right thing. I like to think that they looked around and felt they wanted to be loyal. They wanted to be true. Loyalty is good. Right ? Especially when one is being loyal to the Messiah.
I think these people probably felt to be loyal to Jesus must be to forsake everything else and absolve one of every other authority.
Have you ever considered this in human relationships? I love my wife, spouse, _______ but she is not emotionally mature. Loyalty means, I am married to her, I have chosen her so I must either forcefully require her to mature emotional because I need it or I must suffer in silence.
I think Jesus blew their minds but not just theirs but the minds of people that lived in that culture. He did it often and consistently.
Jesus lived creatively.
When I say creatively, there is a tendency to think that I mean maybe he was bending the rules or whatever else. To be creative is to be skilled in CREATING. He was creating possibilities where others saw limitations.
In tech, everyone wants to innovate. It’s the hot thing. The sexy thing. But did you know that there is nothing new under the Sun. Which means what we see as new today is often just a remixing of old ingredients to make new meals.
Those who create are usually those with mastery of what exists. Those who understand the nuances of the law that governs a thing. Those who understand the factors that drive a thing. Those who understand the intent and backstory and context behind the way things are.
In every culture there is traditions. The cultures that survive learn to create new traditions out of old ones. Good new traditions don’t abolish the old, they fulfill their intent with new context.
So how did Jesus challenge the Pharisees and guardians of the letter of the law yet He did not abolish the law ?
Jesus created new applications from the same intent God had when the Old Testament laws were made.
A little boy asks him mom, the same question twice:
Mom, should I wear cardigan ?
The mom answers,
Yes! You must always wear cardigan! It’s cold here.
No! You don’t need it in the summer.
Now imagine they are in an ice rink in the summer and the son asks the same question:
Mom, should I wear cardigan ?
The obvious answer is _____________
Why? Because the rules the mom taught the kid come from a heart of protecting the health of the child. Those rules are contextual and secondary to health preservation.
Right is not — wearing cardigan always.
Wrong is not — never wearing cardigan in the summer.
Right is — identify what is most healthy and do it.
Unfortunately, most of us live life by rules we don’t spend time to understand the intent and context they were created for.
I know it’s very tempting to also say, well God would never give rules like that mother because His rules are perfect.
Wrong! The mother is giving rules at the level of the comprehension of the child. A child hasn’t studied biology to know what is the most healthy thing to do. So if the mom tells him to do the most healthy thing, it’s gonna sound a lot like do whatever feels good to you because most healthy with limited understanding is useless advice.
The same… God’s word is full of God giving dumb down rules to His children and overtime exposing the principles behind them.
Grace is God entrusting man with freedom to be creative to adapt His principles to their context.
This concept might sound foreign but I want to ask a question. Why don’t we have one government and one set of rules for the whole world ?
I think it’s because right is not a rule. It’s a principle that governs intent; and intent is situational and contextual.
My favorite eye opening thought about rules.
The easiest rule to make and justify — thou shalt not take another man’s life — yet it is foolish.
There are scenarios where you need to take life to protect yours. And in scenarios where you need to protect yours, there are scenarios that are frowned upon and some that are not. So if we cannot make a blanket statement on the most basic right of all — right to life. How can it be wisdom to blindly follow rules made for contexts different from ours. Self defense has parameters. Killing during war, has parameters. If you shoot an enemy five minutes after cease fire, is it right? Yet 5 minutes before it is right, and good — and very much taking another’s life.
Here are some contrasts that highlight Jesus’ creativity:
- Jesus called Pharisees vipers. They made and guarded the OT law and it’s enforcing in society. You would expect one coming to fulfill the law to be their friends or work together ?
- Jesus took the laws and went further. If you are mad at your brother, it’s same as murder. That seems extreme and certainly not what the law said. But there is no question as extreme as it was, it aligned with the intent of the original law.
- Jesus contradicted the letter of the laws but never the intent in His applications to context. Stone the woman, if you are without sin. There was no previous requirement to be perfect to enforce the law or meter Justice. Also why was the “he who is without stone cast the first stone” principle not apply to other laws? If it is taken as a principle then no one can truly enforce justice.
So what was Jesus doing ? He took full advantage of where laws didn’t exists to emphasize freedom and preach grace.
Going back to the scriptures we began with. Do you observe that in both, the intent of Jesus led Him to find ways to arrive at the destination He wanted without violating truth, justice or the law.
- Jesus wanted to teach the people to be law abiding citizen. He wanted their light to shine as citizens that upheld the law. He wanted them to be faultless and blameless. He knew that their light will shine brightest as examples to be emulated not rebels to be fought. I’m not saying there is no time to be rebels as the examples to be emulated but in a context with a chance to be at peace with the government, Jesus found that chance. That is creativity. Creativity doesn’t mean it is easier or faster. Often times it is not. The best art work usually take the longer time to make. What Jesus didn’t want to attract to His cause are people who were looking for a reason to escape paying their dues. Because the intent and heart of such don’t align with surrender which is a fundamental demand of faith.
- Second, Jesus wanted to emphasize the fact that His ministry stands on the shoulder of all who came before Him. Even when you renovate a house, you don’t usually need to uproot the foundation.
What does this have to do with me, today ?
Our context is different from the distant past. Even now, the past is no longer decades. Culture is changing faster in a year than it did in 10 years in previous generation.
We must be creative. We need to think more like Jesus.
Where are the men and women that will study the intent of the law and create modern rules that do not abolish God’s principles but deepens the intent of God in its modern application.
We need to be creative. Time brings with it change. Change is good. It’s natural, we get to align with it and not just merely resist it.
I see so many people focused solely on save guarding the rules of past generations.
I dare say, would Jesus call you a viper too ?
Don’t be a white washed sepulcher,
What is your advice to that man in the beginning? Drop a comment. Let’s get Creative ;)