Posted 09 Jul 2018
“There is a cold and heartless proverb among men to this effect: “Out of sight, out of mind.” And this cold and heartless proverb would be wholly true—even of believing men—if it were not for the divine offices and the splendid services of the Christian imagination. But the truly Christian imagination never lets Jesus Christ out of her sight. And she keeps Him in her sight and ever before her inward eyes in this way. You open your New Testament—which is her peculiar and most delightful field,—you open that Book of books, say, at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. And, by your imagination, that moment you are one of Christ’s disciples on the spot, and are at His feet.” – Lord, Teach us to prayer (book), Alexander Whyte. (emphasis added, MY)
Jesus used his listener’s imaginations lots of times; His parables (word stories) must have created vivid images in their minds. That was the purpose of them – to get His point across to His listeners.
“Some have objected to using the imagination out of concern that it is untrustworthy and could even be used by the Evil One. There is good reason for concern, for the imagination, like all our faculties, has participated in the Fall. But just as we can believe that God can take our reason (fallen as it is) and sanctify it and use it for his good purposes, so we believe he can sanctify the imagination and use it for his good purposes. Of course, the imagination can be distorted by Satan, but then so can all our faculties. God created us with an imagination, and as Lord of his creation he can and does redeem it and use it for the work of the kingdom of God.” – Celebration of Discipline (book), Richard Foster. (emphasis added, MY)
Salvation is past, present and future: in the same sense that we received salvation at a given point in our Christian past; we are being saved in the present, and will be fully saved in the future, at the end of the age, when Jesus returns. Likewise we can reason that our human imaginations have been/are and will be sanctified in the same past, present and future tense. The imagination of a Christian man or woman has been sanctified (made holy) by God when they come to salvation, and is being sanctified in the present. It isn’t fully sanctified until the future completion of the process, when Christ returns. That being the case, we know our imaginations (like all else about us) is not yet made fully perfect. That is why some people are anxious about using their imaginations, or allowing their imaginations to show them images.
We need not be anxious about what we see in our imaginations, provided the image is aligned with the revealed word of God (the Holy Bible). Pay no heed to unbiblical imaginings, dreams, images, etc, but pay close attention to those images which do “line up with” the Holy Bible. By making the Bible the “judge” of the image in our imaginations, we can be confident of our interpretation: that which we know aligns with the truth of the Bible we can be sure of; all else we can dispense with.
Personally, I always “see” (with my imagination) whatever I think about or hear or read about; be it holy or otherwise. I view that imagination as a gift from God; but only if I exercise control over it. If I let my imagination run away with me, then I am not allowing the Bible to be that final arbiter or judge – which leads to wrong images occurring in my mind. I have to monitor what I am allowing my imagination to create, that’s my responsibility and that’s my duty to only use my imagination as God intends me to use it.
A great imagination is God’s gift to me; but as with all other gifts, I must control it, and “point” it in the direction of God: to honour Him. Whenever I read the Bible, I “see” the narrative in my sanctified imagination – which leads me to try to put down on paper what I’ve seen, and from that picture I make the Bible Cartoons. What a brilliant gift God has given me! I thank Him all day long for it.
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