Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant when he said, "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it"? (Mark 10:15 NIV)
Imagine a little child. Maybe you're looking at one or holding one in your lap. What makes her childlike?
Her trust, definitely. If you are her parent, her heart is wide open to you. She expects you to answer when she cries or says your name. She knows that even when she shows you the worst of herself, you will continue to love her.
He probably doesn't worry. He's innocent--unless something has gone horribly wrong.
He's humble. He knows he's a child, he's content to be one, and he's confident in his identity as a son.
But boy or girl and regardless of experience, they have this thing in common--a vibrant imagination. Unfortunately, many of us lose touch with our imaginations over time.
Jesus said the greatest commandment in the Law is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
All. He wants every square inch, every ounce of passion. Your full self. All your thinking capacity. Your logic and your imagination.
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres and each side specializes in certain tasks.
A few years ago, there was a theory circulating online that people are either predominately left-brained or right-brained and that this wiring determines the way they think and behave.
It's an interesting theory, and I still manage to get a laugh here and there with the joke it inspired--"I may be a little weird, but at least I'm in my right mind". (I know, I'm hilarious.)
However studies show that people with healthy brains use both hemispheres interchangeably (Burgess, Lana. 2018, May 26. Left brain vs. right brain: Fact and fiction. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321037.php).
That being said, there's a relationship between the type of task we're doing and each hemisphere of the brain.
For example, the left side of the brain is used primarily for language tasks, numbers, facts, details, and logic while the right side of the brain is used for emotion, intuition, creativity, free-thinking, and visualization.
One could say the imagination finds its home in the right side of the brain.
What's so fascinating to me is that scripture references the distinction between the different processes of thinking long before we had the ability to collect scientific data to prove it.
The first place I noticed this is in Psalm 27:4 (NIV):
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
The Hebrew word for "gaze" in this verse is "chazah", which is a trip to say. According to Strong's Concordance, it means "to see, perceive, look, behold, prophesy, provide" with connotations of "to see as a seer in the ecstatic state" and "to see, perceive with the intelligence and by experience".
In this psalm, David desires to be free to worship God with both his intellect and his imagination.
And in Colossians 3:2, Paul exhorts us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. The Greek word for "mind" here is "phroneo", which means "to have understanding, be wise" and also "to feel, to think".
Logic is good, but you can't leave out emotion. God wants your reason (left-brain) and your imagination (right-brain) at work in your worship.
To love and worship God "like a child" requires your imagination because of the nature of faith.
Faith, by its nature, isn't logical. One might look at scientific evidence and deduce that our existence is likelier the result of intelligent design than a happy accident, but one must have faith to know the nature of God, to believe his promises, and to trust they apply to her.
And what is faith?
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
~Hebrews 11:1 NIV
If faith is confidence in our expectation and assurance in something we don't see, faith must live in the imagination--where dragons exist, humans fly, and the good guys always win.
Remember--"without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
Friend, the way to the kingdom of God is through the door of faith, which resides in the imagination. But don't think for a second that means what we hope for isn't real.
Jesus, the anchor of our faith, is the most real and powerful thing in the universe. In fact, the universe came into being through his imagination (John 1:1-5). He spoke out the dreams in his heart, and they came into being.
If God creates from his imagination and we are created in his image, I believe it's safe to use our imaginations for the glory of God. Open up to him. Give him access.
The imagination is God's playground. Let the fun begin!
Stay tuned and download my FREE guide Ten Tools for Inner Healing: A Learner's Guide to Wholeness to learn more about the sanctified imagination, and be sure to watch the replay of the talk I gave on Facebook Live last night--Your Sanctified Imagination: Why God wants you to use it and Why the world needs it!
What are your thoughts and questions? Have you considered the fact that God gave you an imagination and expects you to use it before today? How do you put your imagination to work in worship? I'd love to hear your thoughts and discuss your questions. Comment below!