The Loss of Imagination

In the movie “Hook ” Peter Pan is all grown up and doesn’t remember what life was like when he was younger. He can no longer fly or fight or even play games as he once did. Peter Pan had become *gasp* a lawyer! Why did this happen? How could he forget… I think the best explanation is that Peter Pan had lost his imagination. In the movie its Tootles who loses his marbles – but the biggest loss isn’t the marbles – the biggest loss is Peter’s lack of imagination.

I think, surprisingly, that “Hook” has something to teach us about faith. In my previous post I shared how I feel faith is being diminished in our culture, and this post is the first of several to look at why that is happening and how we can strengthen faith in our churches and in our culture.

Do we really need imagination? I believe so. Ironically I’m going to say “I know so!”. Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” What we hope for and what we do not see. How can we have confidence and assurance about those things. If we can’t see it, how can we have assurance of it?

Our culture values certainty over faith. Knowledge based on faith is seen as significantly lacking in comparison to what we know (or at least think we know). As a result we’ve turned our faith into a desire for certainty. I believe that seeking greater knowledge of God and understanding of God is foundational to our faith journey, but it’s not all that our is. Our knowledge can be helpful, but it can also be detrimental. We sometimes forget that our knowledge is tainted by our sinfful selves and is imperfect.

To read the Bible takes great imagination to understand it. without imagination how do we understand the parting of the ten seas? How do we understand the miracles of Jesus let alone the resurrection? How do we understand the book of Revelation with all it’s incredible imagery without imagination?

Scripture calls us to have faith like a child. Nobody has better imaginations than children. Perhaps that is part of what Jesus wanted us to understand — that to have faith, we need faith like a child and an imagination to even begin to comprehend God.

To even begin to understand who God is takes imagination. When we read “for God so loved the world…” how do we begin to understand that scope – both geographically but also historically without some sense of wonder and amazement – which are a part of imagination. For us to understand God is to recognize that God is beyond us. For us to claim God as eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent to name a few takes great imagination as we have no reference for those terms and what they mean.

To understand that God loves me. That the divine stoops down to the level of the incarnation because he loves each of us – takes imagination. Faith without imagination is not much faith at all. When we read our scriptures we need imagination to comprehend all that God does. When we pray we need imagination to begin to describe God but also for what we ask of God. When we worship we need imagination to make it meaningful. When we are serving in ministry we need imagination to consider what God can accomplish through us.

I truly believe that for faith to be come a strength in our culture we need to engage our imaginations along with our minds and hearts as we seek to know the One who loves us and put His plan of salvation into action.

Perhaps we need to come back to the movie “Hook”. When Pan rediscovers his imagination his life finds fulfillment, it finds purpose. His relationship with his children thrives, his ability to change the world transforms that around him. All because he had a bit of imagination. That’s just a fictional story – but how much could God do through you if your faith had just a little bit…. of imagination.

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