Imagination is often not something the church is used to discussing. We cognitively understand about the great imagination of God and we understand that we have imaginations – our children exercise that gift regularly and so do artists or dreamers. But apart from children, artists and dreamers, the imagination is far too often ignored by the church. First, there aren’t many bible verses dealing with the imagination and second, deeply exploring something that children, artists, and dreamers engage in regularly can be interpreted as immature.
I am here to tell you that the imagination is a vital part of our Christian living. We were made in the image of God, we were made to be image makers and creators – it is part of the imago dei in us. Simply put, you cannot create without the use of the imagination. And creating is not just reserved for artists but rather, we create in everything we do – making spreadsheets and power points, making dinners, putting clothes together, and painting our house are all creative actions. People were made to be makers.
Another important point, and I am not the first Christian to write about this but it bears repeating – Imagination is integral to hope. Hope requires us to picture ourselves in better or different circumstances than we are currently in. We cannot do this without our imagination. The imagination is the place in which dreaming can happen, creating can be made possible, problem solving is engendered and hope is born.
We also know that hope is uniquely tied to faith. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” In this verse the idea of faith, or “believing” is a prerequisite to hoping according to this scripture. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “…faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the assurance or rather, thebedrock of our hope. But faith is also the evidence of things not seen. But where do we find this unseen evidence? I would argue that we can find it in the imagination. The imagination provides the evidence we need to be able to have faith and thus to be able to have hope.
But it is even more interesting and mysterious than that. We must ask, what is the imagination? Where does it come from? Sure, we are born with it but we have to ask ourselves… what is it really? I think part of the answer can be found in what we read in Hebrews 11:1, “… the evidence of things not seen.” The bible does talk about the “not seen” or better, the “unseen” quite a bit in the bible. We can think of the unseen as the heavenly realms. We are taught by Jesus to pray, “Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “… we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” How can we get access to the unseen realm of heaven that we are supposed to pray to bring to earth? How do we gain access to the unseen realm that is more real than what is in the seen realm? I believe one of the keys to this access is the imagination. The imagination affords us the ability to dream things up from nothing. It allows us to see things that are not yet created yet. The imagination is one of the ways that the unseen realm becomes seen, even if in the mind’s eye. The imagination then, is a portal to the unseen realms. Knowing this information, I wonder what we might begin seeing if we let the Lord fully use our imagination. What a tremendous gift from God.
Why is this important? Because now more than ever we need heaven to come to earth. What we need in culture is a fresh vision from God. I believe if the bride of Christ cultivates her collective imaginations, we will have greater access to the vision God has for us. The Lord will use our imaginations to give us dreams, inventions, ideas, greater hope and deeper faith – much of the elements needed for a revival. As we cry out “Come Holy Spirit, Come,” We will be inviting God to light up our Holy imaginations with the best he has for us and our collective futures. Truly, the future is bright but we must allow the Lord to use our imaginations to see it.