Creatio Ex Nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning “created out of nothing.” It is most often used when describing God as the creator (Genesis 1:1). He created (Hebrew: “bara”) out of absolutely nothing except Himself. This is very different from the work of the doctor, lawyer, inventor, or even a minister. We build from existing material, we don’t create “ex nihilo.” We may join new pairs that have never existed, but every man in and of himself can only make, never absolutely create. There is uniqueness in every person, every church, and every period of history, but as novel as our inventions and ideas now seem, we never absolutely create.
It is absolutely necessary for the church to have God’s creative power. God remains able to “bara,” or create from nothing at any moment. That is why you should never rule out your ministry, your life, or your church because a situation looks bleak. There is hope for you, because God can always create anew. Each time someone is filled with the Holy Ghost, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us they are new creatures, or literally, new creations. Only God can do that work. We have a part in the process, but our part is different from God’s. We have a responsibility to plant or water, but God gives the miraculous increase (1 Cor. 3:7).
It is a danger for the minister to act as if his own work were the real force in a ministry, a church, or a culture. Imagine a painter who, in youth and zeal, is moved to paint a landscape of mountains and pines purely because the transcendent beauty of the scene compels them. The goal and object of the art is to express the transcendent. The artist may sign the painting at the bottom of the canvas, but the artist isn’t fooled. He may be “the artist,” but not the Artist. The painter paints the canvas, but the real beauty is outside of himself.
The same artist, after success and worldly responsibility, may be moved to paint for different reasons. Perhaps it is no longer for transcendent beauty for which he paints, but his own pocket book or his own reputation. Painting can cease to be art, but instead be done solely for proprietorship. The signature at the bottom of each canvas may remain the same, but something has changed. The same danger exists within the life of the minister. What begins as love for God and a desire to see others experience the same can change. We can lose sight of the God who creates and become overly concerned with our own creation. We can be more desirous of singing our name on each of our works than retaining
the transcendent God.
The church belongs to God. It is a tremendous privilege to partner with and work alongside God as He creates anew in people’s lives. He is the great Creator and Artist. If our signature is on the canvas at all, it’s only fitting it be written in red, reminding ourselves of the grace of Calvary. The church is His masterpiece.