God, The First Entrepreneur

The following post was first published on YouVersion by Jordan Raynor, author of the national bestselling book for faith driven entrepreneurs, Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

The first thing God reveals about Himself in Scripture is not that He is loving, holy, omnipotent, gracious, or just. No, the first thing God shows us is that He is creative. In Genesis, He brings something out of nothing. He brings order out of chaos. He creates for the good of others. In short, God is the first entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneur” is a title thrown around so much today that it has become very difficult to define. I would submit that an entrepreneur is anyone who takes a risk to create something new for the good of others.

Using this definition, the Creator of the universe certainly qualifies as The First Entrepreneur. In Genesis, He is clearly creating something new. Before creation, “the earth was formless and empty” until The First Entrepreneur spoke. Then, in six days, His voice brought forth the heavens, the earth, light, evening, morning, sky, land, sea, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, animals, and man.

Not only did God create something original, He also created for the good of others. God certainly didn’t need to create the world and humankind. So why did He? Before creation, the Father, Spirit, and Son had been enjoying perfect community, serving and loving each other for all eternity. If the Trinity reveals the others-orientation of the Godhead, it stands to reason that one of the reasons why God created was to share the perfect love the Trinity has been experiencing for all eternity with us.

So, while God clearly created something new for the good of others, did omnipotent, omniscient God really take a risk when He created? Certainly He didn’t take a risk in the way you and I do when we launch a new business, compose a new song, or write a new book. But He did risk in a different, far more profound way. As Pastor Timothy Keller explains, “God made the world filled with human beings made in His image, human beings with freewill. So God made the world knowing what it was going to cost Him. Knowing what we were going to do. Knowing that [His] Son was going to have to come into the world and [die for us].”

God doesn’t stop revealing His character as creator and entrepreneur in Genesis. The Godhead continues to reveal these characteristics throughout Scripture through the Spirit and Son.

The Spirit

See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. (Exodus 31:1-5)

In this somewhat obscure passage in the book of Exodus, we meet a man named Bezalel who God is calling to create the Tabernacle of the Lord. This was an incredible call and responsibility, for the Tabernacle was meant to be the physical place in which God met with His people as well as home to the Ark of the Covenant, the beautiful, gold-covered chest containing the stone tablets in which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments.

God chooses Bezalel to do the hard, God-like work of creating the Tabernacle. But before Bezalel gets to work “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts,” we are told that God had to first “[fill Bezalel] with the Spirit of God.” Fascinating! Why would Bezalel need God’s Spirit in order to create? Because God is the first entrepreneur, the source of all creativity, and the originator of our ability to make something of value out of the raw materials of this world. In order for Bezalel to fulfill his call to create, he needed more of God’s likeness.

It’s interesting to note that the Tabernacle was meant to be a physical representation of the way the world ought to be, with God at the center of it. The design of the interior of the Tabernacle pointed worshippers to the Holy of Holies, an interior room in which the Israelites believed God physically existed. The Tabernacle was essentially its own world, with everything pointing towards God. So when God called Bezalel to create the Tabernacle, He was inviting him to mimic God’s creation of earth, thus bringing glory to God by emulating his creative Spirit.

When you and I create—when we launch new businesses, write new books, compose new songs, build new things, create new art—we aren’t doing something “secular.” We are imitating (albeit in a quite imperfect way) the work of The First Entrepreneur. Creativity is not a fringe thing. It is central to who God is, and who we are as His image-bearers.

The Carpenter

Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3)

“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:28-31)

The Bible gives us very little detail of Jesus’ life between the ages of twelve and thirty, when He began his public ministry. One of the only things Scripture notes about this significant chunk of time is that Jesus was known in His community for His work as a carpenter. This is remarkable! The only thing the Bible tells us about what Jesus was doing for half of His life was doing the work of a creator and entrepreneur, revealing to us this important characteristic of the Trinity.

Given Jesus’ ultimate purpose for coming to earth, you might have expected God to choose for the Messiah to grow up in the home of a priest, like the prophets Samuel and John the Baptist, or maybe in a Pharisaical household, like the Apostle Paul. Instead, God placed Jesus in the home of a carpenter, where for eighty-five percent of His working life, He would reveal God’s character as a creator and an entrepreneur, creating new things for the good of others.

In just three years of public ministry, Jesus revealed countless characteristics about His Father. To the five thousand, Jesus showed us that God is our provider. To Lazarus, Jesus showed us that God is the giver of life. And on the cross, Jesus showed us that “God so loved the world” that He would sacrifice His only Son in order to spend eternity with us. If Jesus was able to reveal so much of God’s character in such a relatively short period of time, the fact that Jesus spent twenty years revealing God’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit should stop us in our tracks.

Think back to the beginning of this post. What God created in the first six days is astonishing, but what’s equally remarkable is what He did not create. After six days of work, God left the earth largely undeveloped and uncultivated. Then He called you and I to join Him as His co-creators, “filling and subduing” the world. When we create, we are emulating the entrepreneurial and creative character of the Godhead: Father, Spirit, and Son. Your work as a creator is not “secular” or “less than” the work of a “full-time missionary” or pastor. No, you are doing God-like work for His glory and the good of others. Glorify Him through your creating today!

-- Jordan Raynor

Thanks to Pawan Sharma and Unsplash for the cover photo of Aslan :)