The Creative Community
We don’t have time to flesh out the fullness of how the history of Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai/Zechariah (and even Malachi) plays out in this short study. However, notice in yesterday’s reading and in today’s study how Ezra (the priest), spends most of his time shaping the people in the Scriptures, repentance, and in art of becoming a family again after their days in a 70-year exile in the pagan Babylon.
As the Israelites return to build the wall, Ezra provides the “why” to their journey. And even with Ezra’s work in this regard, everyone still gets discouraged, and wants to quit. Quickly, we see moments where Haggai and Zechariah enter as prophets to speak truth, exhort, admonish, and help the people remember the judgments, the grace, and the truth of God.
Not long after this, and interwoven throughout, comes the ministry of Nehemiah. He’s tasked by King Cyrus to rebuild. Nehemiah is the administrator and the brains behind the operation, but I find it fascinating what he does right at the onset of his work. He positions families together with swords and trowels next to the portion in the wall where they will live. In other words, each family gathers together to build the wall and gate closest to their home with their trowel, and stays there to protect it with their sword.
Nehemiah gives them ownership over their place in the work.
So picture it! We have one of the most MASSIVE creative works ever undertaken going on, and the workforce, the artisans, the theologians, and the homes are all necessary in creating something of beauty.
This is the picture of the church as overseen by the Trinity and a Trinitarian (multiple) leadership structure. To oversimplify, the Prophets preserved truth, the priests preserved the people’s hearts and compassion, and the Kings preserved the mission and ensured the work’s completion.
For true creativity to happen, it takes an army, not an individual. Artistic community therefore does not mean “those artsy types,” but rather it ensures that every believer sees themselves as “an artsy type.” We are the building of our master craftsman Jesus, and we must work to incorporate all the gifts of God’s people, underneath a sound multiple leadership structure, in order to ensure true beauty both in craft and community.
*For further reading in the Bible: Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 8; Nehemiah 9
Visit www.makejesusculture.com and get the Artistic Community Video Bundle, and watch “Community Shaped Creativity.”
Accompanying this study is over 300-Hours of video footage from 150 of today’s top Christian thinkers on culture, creativity, innovation, and invention at www.makejesusculture.com and www.gardencityproject.com. We aim to help churches develop grass roots culture formation for their contexts. Go now!