I’m just reading a paper by Jonny Woodrow, who’s one of the TCH leaders in Loughborough… and its got me thinking afresh about the value of culture creation.

We often talk about ‘the cultural mandate’, where God has commanded us to ‘fill and subdue’. However I sometimes have struggled to see the connection between ‘subdue’ and ‘culture’. For me, subduing has rather negative connotations, quietening down something that is loud, ‘subduing a crowd’ or someone being down – ‘that person is a bit subdued’.

But when you realise that ‘filling and subduing’ is an activity of God in creation it starts to take on a whole new, and positive, meaning.

God kicks off Genesis 1 by ‘filling and subduing’ or rather ‘subduing and filling’. So he takes what is formless and gives it a wonderful form. He takes what is chaotic and gives it order. You can see why we talk about ‘subduing a crowd’ – there is something chaotic, and you give it order. But when God does it its not only to stop a negative but to give an incredible positive. In giving order to chaos he creates the most amazing and varied world.

Next step is to ‘fill’ – and what delightful creatures he makes to fill this now ordered world! He fills the seas with all kinds of fish, the air with birds and the land with animals and plants. It just struck me the other day as I was looking out at our ‘green and pleasant land’ just how many varieties of green there are! As a non-Christian musician I was talking to said – this world is not the work of an engineer – its the work of an artist!

And so God, in subduing and filling, creates the first piece of art, the first story, the first song. His is a work of incredible artistic expression.

Seeing this has really helped me understand how this command to ‘fill and subdue’ is all about culture. As a string together formless notes into a song, I am obeying this command. When footballers put together a string of passes that result in a spectacular goal they are obeying this command (though they might not know it!). No wonder we so enjoy sport and art and music and stories when they are done well. They are nothing less than an expression of who we are created to be.

What we need to do is point people to the God they are made in the image of, so that he gets the glory…