Sunday, November 4, 2007

Imagination and the Spiritual Walk. Part 1

I imagine some are wondering why I use the word imagine in the sub-title of this blog. I think imagine is an important word that many of us don't fully understand in spiritual terms. I would be among those, of course. I claim no special knowledge here. But, I have been working on this one because it's important to me, and as a result, I have some thoughts to share.

Think about thinking. How do you do it? What do you recognize as thinking when you do it; or what do you reject as feeling when you want thinking, but all the words in the brain are pouring forth rapidly out of your heart? What do you do when your thinking fails and you don't have an answer to the problem at hand?

Pr 4:7
The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.

Hebrew word for understanding = discernment; act; faculty; object

Notice the variants of meaning include discernment, insight into what is going on around you, and faculty, the ability to do so. We all have the faculty to understand at some level. Commonly we humans, cleansed and dirty, work at gaining some degree of understanding about the natural world around us. This is often motivated by selfishness, which produces mixed results in gaining discernment of the natural world, and no results at gaining discernment of spiritual matters. (I will reference the following concept often, and so begin here.) Those who are not born of the spirit of Jesus can never gain discernment of spiritual truth, except by direct revelation from the Father at His discretion. Without birth in Christ's Spirit, one's faculty to understand is locked completely within the paradigm of the material world. True enough the material world is under the dominion of Satan. Knowledge gained through him can provide illusions of separation from the material; but as he is the Father of Lies, he cannot give one separation in Truth. I digress, that is probably a post of its own.

So this post is about using our faculty of understanding to increase what we discern about spiritual matters. (I feel as if I am about to plunge my hand into boiling water, but here goes!)

I think Christians need to do two things.

1. Be honest that the imagination is part of everyday life all the time. We need NOT be afraid of it.
For example:
  • We engage in "fantasies" of how the conversation with our boss about a raise is going to go. This use of imagining interactions with others repeats, so ...
  • If we do not have a calculator and do any math in our head, yes we are thinking; but we imagine the numbers visually; or we imagine their values genius recently interviewed on television explained that numbers take on geometric shapes in his head and he "sees them combining" according to the function at hand.

Imagination is a function of the thinking processes in our heads. They go together. We think in concepts that are imagined, that is we use the faculty not to be confused with create an imagined object. What's more, I believe the heart is directly linked to the imagination. Our minds translate the feelings of our hearts into the words we speak and physical actions we choose by using our imagination.

2. Gain understanding of what purposes imagination can serve in gaining spiritual understanding of the Father. Apologies to whomever wrote this for not citing you as the source, but I read it back in the early nineties and have no clue where I did. This is stuck in the cobbed files of my brain, though: (this is not a direct quote just a remembrance)

Our development follows a course and our lives are a recurring function of our development. Feelings first (babies have "no" verbal constructs, though research indicates that fetal hearing allows the basis of language to develop in utero) then thoughts, thoughts lead to imaginations, imaginations spawn desires, desires direct actions, actions become habits, habits develop into lifestyle patterns and lifestyle patterns are one's destiny.

I submit breaking free from the natural existence into spiritual birth is the spiritual experience all humans need. Period. This occurs when the Father in His mercy reveals Jesus as Messiah to someone and they choose to so trust Him. However, walking out one's salvation in fear and trembling employs our faculties of understanding and the discernment so gained. There should be a continual gain in the mind and heart in these areas as one grows spiritually, I think...or am I just imagining this? Perhaps we can understand and grow in the utilization of our imaginations as part of walking with the Lord.

Yes, I knew the word "imagination" would cause some folks to pause and experience feelings, possibly even negative decisions about my blog. That's OK. Yes, I also knew it might stir in some a questioning of whether or not I was a New-Ager, full of double-speak about the word "Christ." Oh well. Such is how the spirits spar in the Wild Wood. It cannot be avoided.

We must sort through "spirit" as Christians and understand what we can. While some things will remain unknown to us, the Father knows all, and we are safe in Him.

Next up: thoughts about being a Christian and connecting with the value of our imaginations before the Living Father. For those who feel a tug of concern about the topic, I'll tell you the "safety net" I will talk about in conclusion, so that you know it is place. The Word, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and heart to heart fellowship are together our safety net in this. We must all be grounded in realizing we are connected to the material world by our bodies. We are not creatures of the imagination. We are creatures of earth who experience a God-given imagination. Some of us are reborn. The imagination is available to common humans and is a tool He provided us. Our new birth renews our mind. Is the imagination exempt?


Josiah said...

I think the problem people have with imagination in relating to Jesus is He is Truth and imagination seems to be subjective. Herein is the beauty, the Truth is a living person and in relationship Truth can handle the subjective- Our freedom to imagine is thus found in the charge to bring every thought into obedience to Christ. For in Him we celebrate His gift of creativity without forming the vain idol of our own making

Iris said...

Good post. I am working with the "feeling" part of Spirit walk and finding similar things.

Do keep blogging.

Craig V. said...

It may be helpful to try to delineate imagination from thinking. If we go from thinking to imagining, what extra thing are we doing when we imagine?

You run in different circles than me. Imagination is a good word where I live, though, admittedly, the fruit of the imagination (art for example) is often held suspect.

Interesting post. Thanks.

ded said...

Thanks, Craig, for your comment. I have been pondering where to go with the next post and your comment is very helpful!

ded said...

Thanks, Iris, for your comment. I appreciate the encouragement to keep writing.