Imagination and Faith? I John 1:5

July 3, 2024Danita
Blog post

 

Warning: This is a long post but I hope you will read all the way to the end and though not a typical “recipe” but maybe it will give you some food for thought.

 A few weeks ago our pastors began a series on spiritual disciplines and the first one was… meditation. For years I have made it a practice to start my day with a time of reading God’s word, prayer and sometimes meditation. Since this sermon a coupe of weeks ago, I have been challenged to spend more time on the meditation part. This morning I started by reading I John 1:5. 

               “Now this is the message we have heard from Him (Jesus) and declare to you:

                God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him”

Deciding to do a bit of a deeper dive into this verse, I ran across a devotion that turned the focus to … you guessed it… meditation.  I began to think in a bit of a different way and wanted to share some thoughts with you, hopefully to encourage, motivate and somehow you will be drawn closer to Him.

*So you know… when I say “we”, I really just mean “I”.

God is Light:

I was first drawn to the phrase, “God is light.”

What does this mean? Its is super simple. The original Greek words means … ANY and ALL forms of light.  

Metaphorically in the Bible “light” is used to mean source of goodness, illumination, and ultimate reality. It can also be a metaphor for righteousness, truth, knowledge and spiritual purity. In this verse we see that God is not A light or even THE light. He IS light. That means He alone IS goodness, purity, ANY and ALL forms of illumination. 

The second phrase of the verse says, “and there is absolutely NO darkness in Him.” That would lead us to the conclusion that God is perfect in His light and His nature. And in contrast how short we fall short of that.

I asked myself…

  • In my life, are there areas of darkness, dark chambers, partially illuminated spaces, moods of heaviness? 

The answer, sadly, was a resounding Yes! Then I was reminded… BUT God is light…. gloriously bright in holiness, grace, love and mercy. 

This is where the imagination part came in.  I propose that the practice of our faith and the practice of imagination are intricately connected. As adults, we may think imagination is just for children, we’ve outgrown that… but have we? 

  • Do we believe what we see, or what COULD be?
  • Do we believe in the God of the possible or the impossible?

Believing in what is unseen and having the ability to consider the breadth and depth of God’s love and what He is capable of involves our imaginations. Let’s think of it this way… imagination can be a way of understanding a depth of truth that is beyond our sight. 

Unfortunately, we are fallen beings and marred by sin, so as with most everything in our lives there are two aspects… the sanctified imagination and the fallen imagination.

Fallen Imagination:

When we allow our fallen imagination to cast darkness and shadows over our minds and thinking it leads to things like anxiety, lust, covetousness and general dissatisfaction with the truth or reality… you know, the way things are.  We ask ourselves …

What could be IF things were different?

What could be if I had MY own way?

We imagine NOT the potential of God, but the potential of us… or even others if we or they were not weighed down by ________   (fill in the blank with any number of things). 

We want to change our “reality” or truth. But, I believe if we want the truth we must first acknowledge our limitations to see it or at least see it on our own.

What? Of course I can see the truth… it’s right in front of me… we easily think.

Yes, maybe, but we must not limit what we define as truth (reality) to the physical world – or simply what we can see or feel.

Now, stick with me… I’m not going off the deep end here.

Think of it this way, when we sin… and we all do… our first reaction is to run to the shadows and attempt to hide from God… like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. We leave reality and enter a blank space away from reality – or a place that doesn’t exist… as Augustin puts it. Here we use our imagination to create a faux-reality to justify ourselves or our actions. 

We conclude… 

  • we didn’t know
  • we couldn’t help it
  • it wasn’t our fault

… and so the imagination goes on.

But God calls us back to the light (truth/reality), back to Himself and into His presence to deal with our short coming. He deals in light because He is light. Exodus 34:6-7 describes God’s character by telling is, “The LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” 

In this passage the word for “faithfulness” is also a synonym for truth. He is unending love and He is truth/reality. To walk in truth is to come out of the shadows and into His presence confessing and abandoning the darkness, to stop using our imagination to make up stories to justify ourselves. 

The nature of reality is… God is… merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 

There is a cycle we see throughout scripture and our own lives. 

                                              We sin – we need God – God is faithful to forgive and cleanse.

Denying this is lying to ourselves and we are not practicing the truth. To practice the truth simply means to call a thing what it is… again, reality. 

God is consistently calling us to be rooted in truth/reality, in HIM… both in the seen and unseen (that’s where faith comes in)… because that is where HE is. He calls us to live in the light, face the reality of our wrongs and live in His mercy, forgiveness and unfailing love instead of using our fallen imagination to live in the shadows of darkness. 

This is where my thoughts ended…. at first. Then as I meditated on this a bit more I thought … that’s only one side of our being. And I began to wonder…

What about our “sanctified” imagination? 

Sanctified Imagination:

If faith and imagination are truly intertwined, how much do we limit ourselves in the positive regard? How much faith do we have?

  • How much do we/I live in the shadows by NOT imagining what God CAN do? 
  • Am I living in worry and fear?
  • Do I do the “what if things were different” questioning?

I John 1:5 says there is “absolutely no darkness” in Him. That means He is absolutely moral, pure and omniscient… no moral defect or lack of knowledge in Him. He is the source of goodness, illumination in all circumstances and the ultimate reality/truth. And He desires for us to also live in His goodness, love and mercy… and to exercise our faith in Him and His goodness.

My conclusion was this…. 

Instead of the questions I am so prone to ask when things aren’t “the way they should be,” what would happen if I use my sanctified imagination and exercised my faith to ask….

  • What could be DESPITE the way things are?
  • What could be if I let God have HIS way? 

My goal is to step out of the shadows in my life and allow my faith to be practiced and use my imagination to let God shine the Light that He is into my life in the form of His unfailing love, grace, mercy and goodness. Instead of worry, anxiety and fear can I replace that with trust, surrender and obedience? Can I imagine the goodness of God in the seen and the unseen?

My desire is to live in the reality of His love and grace, knowing He can and will work in every situation… no matter how dark the shadows seem over it.

 

 

 

 

 

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