Against the ceaseless tide of life it is easier to forget, rather than retain my identity in Jesus Christ. It’s easier for me to give in to the doctrine of this world than to cling to the truth of God’s word. My flesh is predisposed to fall in line with the lies of the enemy, to live as though God doesn’t exist, and that “this” is all there is. To be converted to hell I simply have to do nothing.
Yet God, in His great mercy has quickened me to life, He has given me an identity in the person of His Son, He has called me into his kingdom, He has entrusted me with His truth through the power of His Holy Spirit, and my future lies in eternal bliss with Him. That is ultimate reality. That, partially realized current state and fully realized future state is the state that exists above all of the sin, decay, depravity, loss, sorrow, depression, despair, hopelessness, offense, and death that surrounds me today. Bearing all of this in mind I must fight that this truth, this state, this hope, this reality be at the forefront of my mind, be what I dwell on, and to discipline myself such that this is my default setting when at rest. When the enemy tempts me to terminate my thoughts on temporal, passing conveniences and pains that don’t compare to the glory of Jesus, I must fight to retain that vision of what Christ has promised.
Philippians 4:8 summarizes this mental practice well: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
This begs the question, how? How do I fight for this? How do I wage war against the anti-God environment I live in? How do I combat all that assaults my understanding and belief of the Christian life? I would argue that this is accomplished through imagination. C. S. Lewis said in the Weight of Glory – “If we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.“ Imagination is the gift of the Holy Spirit working in tandem with himself and the word of God to prevent us from utter despair and ruin
I don’t mean imagination in things that can never be true or imagination leading to distraction. I am defining imagination as the art and practice of holding something in your mind such that you can dwell there, enjoy it, revel in it, and gaze at it. The root word being “image” helps my case. We all have an image of who God is, an image of our future with him, an image of the coming of the kingdom of God. It’s important that the image we have aligns with scripture and we can count on our images needing to be realigned throughout our lives. A helpful literary definition states that imagination is forming images or concepts based on external objects not present to the senses. Is that not what the indwelling of God accomplishes in our hearts? Is that not what scripture does for us when we are given insight into who the Lord is and what he has in store for us in ultimate redemption?
What is unique and life altering and wholly worthwhile is that our godly imaginations are true and will come into fruition through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were designed to flourish, to be happy, to relish in our experiences, to laugh without regret, to thrive without restraint or fear, to work and be creative, to compose music, to sing unabated, to explore without fatigue, and all to the glory of Almighty God. We can put the weight of our imagination down on God, He will exceed our expectations. We can run wild in the pleasures of our King, He has an endless supply.
Much like Lucy and Edmund remembering who they were after they came back from Narnia, much like Aragorn waiting until the right time to come forth as the king he was, and much like we in 2017 preach to our own souls of what Christ has told us about himself, about us, and our future – we fight for this in our hearts and minds.
I don’t consider myself a runner, but when I do jog and am ever successful in terms of distance and personal goals it’s been when I fix in my mind on a picture of the finish line. That image being suspended in my mind’s eye preaches to my inner person that I can make it, I can keep running, and that I will see the end of this route. What I meditate on and imagine is what pushes me past fatigue, dehydration, hunger, and weakness. Everything inside us and around us wants to snuff out and extinguish that hope to death or to sleep. Do not give in. Stoke the fires of your imagination defiantly in the face of the enemy of the world and in the face of the demon of apathy. Fight for your imagination Christian and thereby behold your God.