May 13, 2013

The power of a sanctified imagination

A man involved in annual outdoor presentations of the Passion Play said that most of his best ideas come from dreams. Some listeners were horrified because their own dreams are never creative and more like nightmares. However, the man explained the power of a sanctified imagination. When the mind is given over to Jesus and controlled by the Holy Spirit, who knows what grand things it could conceive?

Today’s devotional reading adds to the theme of yesterday, that God can do great things through our human imaginations. Because I am created in His image, I can be amazingly creative and able to love others. Today, the same writer says that because it is possible to have a holy imagination, God can use it to help me see the unseen.

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:28–29)

No one is saved by their imagination. The world suggests that religion is only that, and that Christians have made up a God and a Christ. They assume both are figments of the imagination and manufactured by needy souls. If that were the case, how then can thousands of people from all walks of life and all nations and languages believe the same thing? How could so many imagine the same story of a Savior who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a horrible death, and rose from the dead to offer forgiveness and eternal life? It would simply not happen that way from mere human imagination.

Aside from that, God does use our imaginations to help us see the mysteries that He reveals. Because of this faculty, I have a vision of the grace and the beauty of Jesus Christ that envelopes my heart and will not let it go. It is that image, tender and loving, brave and patient, silent and unselfish, that casts a spell on my imagination and reaches my heart.

The devotional says that no worse curse can fall on a person than to have a corrupt imagination. I agree. I am able to imagine horrible sins and crimes against my enemies. I am able to imagine doing things I would never do except in the hidden places of my heart. My imagination can be a curse instead of a blessing.

But I also know that there is no greater power than an imagination that is pure. This God-given ability fills me with His ideas and ways to make them a reality. Not only that, a sanctified imagination has purifying power. The person who dwells in that inner communion with Christ has a vision of what is fair and lovely. A mind that is under the control of the Holy Spirit and filled with joyful and holy thoughts soon realizes that all things unclean and bestial, the base stuff of a sinful imagination, must “steal away” into the forests and gloom of the night.

The Bible says that before God destroyed the world with a flood, the people’s hearts were filled with evil imaginations. Little wonder that the New Testament gives instructions like this…

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22–24)

Last week I asked God to help me with my wandering imagination and He has shown me how it can be used to love others, and to get a better grasp of the beauty that is in Christ. He challenges and renews my thinking and continues to charge me with a greater consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ.  

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