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June 3, 2008 / beidson

God’s Good Gift of Imagination

There are at least two reasons that God has given us the ability to imagine mulitple realities.  First, so that we might consider sin and its dangerous and deadly consequences, and in this, turn away from temptation.  Second, so that we might consider the far reaching effects of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in this, turn to Christ so that we might find eternal satisfaction and joy.

Consider God’s Word to us: “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”  (Jude 17-21)

Here is the challenge to remember, to imagine, to think of what becomes of those who do not obey the gospel of God.  We are warned to guard against this error by building ourselves up, by bringing our minds and thoughts under the authority of Christ.  Think also of the Second Commandment, forbidding us from imagining and creating an image of God, which would cause us to forsake Christ, who is the true Image of God.  And many more instances can be found in the Scriptures, challenging us to comtemplate on what might happen if we turn away from the living God.

This type of imagining is essential in our daily fight against temptation and sin.  Husbands ought to consider the consequences of flirting with a co-worker before doing so; surely, things will not turn out well, and he would lose much more than he could ever gain in his sin.  Young ladies ought to imagine what might happen to them if they continue to forsake the teachings of Scripture for a more politically correct worldview.  How do they know they will not one day turn away from Christ and put their hope in man?  Teenagers ought to imagine what will happen to them if they begin to listen to the foolish counsel of friends over the counsel of their parents.  Will they end up in jail, or worse, dead?  Imagination is a great gift; it has surely kept us from much evil.

But think also of the positive benefits of imagination: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (imagine), according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Here is the challenge to believe that God is greater than our small thoughts, and that we really don’t have the “big picture” understanding that God does (Isaiah 55:8-9).  The Scriptures are meant to provoke us to obedience.  Scripture paints big, clear pictures of God’s purposes in Christ.  When we read them, our minds ought to move immediatlely to the future, as we imagine ways in which our lives will be affected by what we have read.  And so we find ourselves lost in thought, considering the past and thinking critically of the present, wondering exactly how things will turn out, knowing that all of Scripture shall come to pass.

This type of thinking will have a tremendous impact on our lives.  Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (1 Corinthians 8:18).  Those with cancer must not get lost in despair, but rather imagine what sort of good thing God is bringing about by their present sufferings.  Those of us who have lost spouses or jobs or our will to live are to find a renewed sense of hope by imagining the glory we will behold one day, if indeed we are hoping in Christ.

Imagination transcends physical reality, which is what makes it so powerful.  We can use it for good or ill, but either way, it serves to testify to the reality of future judgment before God.  Our consciences tell us to imagine such a day, and this is God’s design.  The ultimate truths of the Bible must guide our imaginations, or else, like every other good gift of God, we will imagine there is no such thing as God at all.  So exercise your imagination and let it be a spiritual discipline in your life that would cause you to turn away from evil and turn to Christ in genuine saving faith.

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