Spiritual Growth

What Happens When You Have Imagination with Faith

It was Picasso who said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” What I believe Picasso is referring to is a loss of imagination. Imagination is the force that trespasses on the impossible. For children, imagining is an easy task, but as we age, that force often lies undeveloped. Yes, undeveloped . . . not replaced or demolished, but merely undeveloped.

Developing an imagination is a necessity, and it is crucial to our faith. I would actually say, our faith needs imagination as much as our imagination needs our faith. They are to cohabitate and support each other in this Christian life.

In current times, many of us are passive with imagination and allow culture and society to do the imagining for us. Culture is constantly preaching what should be. For instance, “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner!” or “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” These are cultural invitations to imagine what could be. In the Christians’ case, developing imagination is critically important but easily overlooked. It’s sad for anyone to lose their imagination, but it’s especially tragic for a Christian to lose their imagination.

Perhaps, at this point, I run the risk of losing readers who associate imagination purely with the delusional and mythical; but faith accompanied by imagination is so much more than this. Christian faith is based on reason and fact. So how do we merge biblical faith with imagination?

Consider the following three ideas about the interplay of imagination and faith:

1. Let’s begin with the definition of imagination. What are we really talking about?

Imagination is “the action of forming ideas or concepts not present to the senses.” Imagination is simply the ability to visualize that which is not visual, to see the unseeable. Many in the business world would call this “casting a vision.” Creatives call it “art.” Art is always something imaginative, because it envisions and executes that which is hard to believe. Perhaps imagination is scary for some because it transcends intellect and what we can feel and hold. Logic may change our mind, but it’s the interplay between imagination and faith that changes our life.

2. Can we take imagination too far?

Imagination visualizes what faith knows to be true. If imagination is a kite, factual faith is the string connecting it to its handler. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (NLT) So it’s faith that calls us to imagine, but to imagine with biblically correct assurance. Without a theological connection, the kite could be tossed by every gust of wind.

3. How does this change us?

When our imagination is biblically developed, we start to see people and things the way God sees them. Christians are called to imagine what could be and what will be, while also living in the present. For example, as Kingdom citizens, it’s a calling to see others as people to be loved, not as enemies. As a second example, consider our bodies. They are no longer merely physical. They are to be imagined as the temple of the Holy Spirit. And how are we to envision the church? We are not a group of misfits; we are to imagine the church as a family. This is the way of Jesus. This is how God sees us and desires us to envision one another.

In many cases, the development of imagination is the first step toward faith. Imagining what the Holy Spirit can do in our community, in our work space, in our classroom, and in our church prepares us to perceive with our senses what faith tells us is true.

I’ll leave you with an imaginative quote from the late and great theologian Francis Schaeffer, “The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”


by C. S.  Fritz, author of Good Night Tales

Good Night Tales leads your children through a vivid, beautiful, and imaginative adventure through Scriptural truths. This collection of Scripture-based stories brings a forest to life through animal kings, trolls, plum-loving giants, and fiddle-playing crickets. Stories include reimaginings of Israel asking for a new king, parables about searching for the kingdom of God, and Psalm 23.

Learn more HERE>>

Chloe Renzema is the Content Marketing Coordinator at Tyndale House Publishers. Chloe grew up in Michigan where she developed her love of lakes and the outdoors. She is passionate about creating visually appealing content that communicates simply and clearly. In her free time Chloe enjoys running, reading, freelance graphic design work, and volunteering with YoungLife.

2 Comments

  • I’ve had a struggle with my own imagination and faith. My imagination is strong; perhaps too strong. I used to believe that God spoke to me offten the way many Christians claim He speaks to them. Not like a voice in my head but a quiet knowing that formed into words.

    A couple of years ago I thought He spoke to me clear and strong. I was full of joy but the next day proved what I thought was His voice was just unbalanced hormones and sleep deprivation talking. It had all been my imagination. There was no doubt.

    I had to take a step back from all I knew and understood about how God spoke to me personally. It was a good thing in a way. I had to turn to the Bible and the words of wise people in my life for guidance.
    I hurt for a long time. I could feel His presence but no longer trusted my own mind to receive actual words from God. Words are important to me. I crave words from the people I’m closest to especially my husband, and I don’t always get them. So it was extra hard to give up on communicating with God through personal words.

    I can see how He had led me but I still crave words specific for me from Him. Yet my imagination is so strong I don’t trust my mind not to put words into His mouth so to speak. Is there any chance I can some day optiain such a closeness that I can hear directly from Him?

    Reply
    • Cindy,
      Thank you for sharing, and being so vulnerable.
      This is one of the age-old desires…To hear His voice audibly. It’s a sweet and endearing desire that Christians have been seeking forever.
      I think one of the most beautiful benchmarks of Christianity is the fact, that all truth has been revealed, recorded and now to be received. Meaning, there is nothing new to be said from God. Where this may seem harsh, or unfair for those wanting to hear His voice…It’s actually quite freeing. Freeing because of the same reasons you felt pain/unsure… That being “whose voice is this?” “who do I listen to?” “is this me, or God speaking?”…The revealed word of God is there as a filter of truth to remove that pain. If I can encourage you as a brother in Christ…It would be with this: verse over voice. God has spoken directly to you already in His word. Every scripture is used by the Holy Spirit, and applied directly to you, your circumstance, your pain and your joy. This is what Hebrews 4:12 implies when it calls scripture “living and active”. Cindy, the closeness you seek will come in opening up God’s word before you and saying the prayer “here I am”…Stopping to pray for you now!

      Reply

Write a comment