Devotional Series: Imagination: Redeemed and Redemptive

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Isaiah’s Redemptive Imagination, Part 2

The example of Isaiah shows us that when God stirs up our imaginations in redemptive ways, we may very well “see” what we have never before envisioned. We may learn that God wants to use us in ways we would have considered unlikely, undesirable, or even impossible. Yet, we will also discover that our God-inspired imaginations will lead us to participate more fully and fruitfully in the redemptive work of God in the world.

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Isaiah’s Redemptive Imagination, Part 1

We are inspired and instructed by the redemptive vision of Isaiah as we seek to live under the authority of the one who is our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The more we let this vision shape how we think, feel, and live, the more we’ll be ready for God to energize our redemptive imaginations in specific ways so that we might participate in God’s redeeming work in the world.

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Imagination Renewed for Whole-Life Worship

If our imaginations are going to be used for good, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As God restores our mental capacities – including our imaginations – we are able to discern God’s will with greater accuracy and clarity. Thus, we can evaluate wisely the things we imagine. And we can live each day as an act of worship to God.

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An Example of the Downside of Imagination

Our imaginations will dream up all sorts of things in our minds. Some will lead to blessing; others will lead to suffering. Our responsibility is to take what our imaginations conjure up and consider it in light of God’s grace and truth. We mustn’t let our lives be governed by imagination-inspired fear. Rather, we must learn to trust God in all things.

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The Downside of Imagination

God has given us the gift of imagination so that we might fulfill our divine callings to serve and glorify God in all we do. What the human imagination inspires can be wonderful. But it can also be terrible. As we see in Genesis 3, the imagination can lead us to turn away from God and God’s purposes. Thus, like the rest of us, our imagination needs to be redeemed and renewed so that it might be used for human good and God’s glory. 

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The Imagination of Humanity

The God who exercised imagination in creating the universe made humanity in the divine image. Therefore, we have been given the gift of imagination. We are to use this gift as we fulfill God’s first calling to humanity, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and exercise authority over it. Though some people are exceptionally imaginative in certain areas, all of us reflect God’s image. Therefore all of us have the opportunity to use our imaginations for good. 

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The Imagination of God

Though we may not often think in this way, Scripture shows us the imagination of God. We see this clearly in creation. God “sees” what ought to be created and then “creates” in light of this vision. God’s unique imagination fills the pages of Scripture, encouraging us to see God in a new way. 

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A list in a Bible of many parables of Jesus

The Goodness of the Imagination

As we wonder about the goodness of the imagination, we come to the case of Jesus. He often taught in parables that were the fruit of his fruitful imagination. Through the characters and stories he made up, Jesus revealed profound truth. His example encourages us to offer our imaginations to God so that we might add to the goodness of this world.

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But Isn’t the Imagination Evil?

Some Christians believe that the imagination is necessarily evil. They find support for this view in the King James Version of the Bible, which uses the word “imagination” in generally negative ways. But, in fact, Scripture does not single out the imagination as being corrupt. Rather, all human mental activity has been twisted by sin. Every part of us, including our imagination, needs to be redeemed and renewed by God.

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How Can Imagination Be Redemptive?

Our imaginations are redemptive when they inspire and guide us to participate in the redemptive work of God. We see injustice but imagine justice. We see brokenness but imagine wholeness. But we don’t just sit there and imagine. Rather, our redemptive imaginations stir us up to action.

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Imagination Is More Than Visual

Because the word “imagination” is based on the Latin word imago, meaning “image,” we tend to think of it as having to do with visual images, those we see in our minds even though they are not in front of our eyes. Yet imagination actually embraces all the senses, and even more. We can use our imaginations to think lofty thoughts, to dream dreams of justice and peace.

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Seeing the Unseen with Your Imagination

In 2 Corinthians Paul talks about seeing “what cannot be seen.” He talks about “seeing,” not with physical eyes, but with the mind, with what we would call the imagination. Today we begin a new _Life for Leaders_ series called “Imagination: Redeemed and Redemptive.” May God teach us to use all of our abilities – including our imaginations – for God’s own kingdom purposes. 

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