My Impaired Imagination

God is…God is…hmmm…

God is supreme, holy, powerful, just, gracious, merciful and so much more. Honestly I could go on all day every day trying to sum up God and even then my words would be inadequate. I have trouble finding the right words to express the emotions or thoughts I have. Don’t even get me to try to explain doing some technical work or describe the procedures I followed in completing some tedious project. I’m not gonna be a lot of help to you in this endeavor and much less help trying to define God. I don’t sweat it though, cause I know I’m not alone.

We as humans have yet to discover the appropriate words that fully encapsulate the idea of God. We can hardly settle on the right name. We call God, “Jehovah”, “Elohim”, “Abba Father”, “YHWH” and so many other things. Each of these names or descriptions are accurate but still incomplete. God is more.

We can travel a thousand miles on a journey exploring the very nature of God but the truth about His ultimate reality is yet a million miles away. And we know this to be true so we grasp for words that we can handle; words that we can use as a method of distillation to break down God to a teeny-tiny, bite-sized morsel of Goodness. We are inventive and quite clever so we just say, “God is love!” But is our contemporary romantic view of love an apt description for God?

Love is a word we spout out without thought. Could this single word be enough to some up God? Certainly not! Especially so when we say things like, “I love my car”, “I love this restaurant”, “I love my dog”. In my view the word love probably belongs in the same category as God; a category of things we speak of but don’t quite really comprehend. But this is what we do. It is the simple and wholly unsatisfactory work of humans to speak of things which we do not truly know. Ultimately this behavior does not stem simply from a lack of personal knowledge and experience but from a lack of imagination.

We are a visual people. I wonder if we are not taking in the whole image of God. I’m convinced that we are looking at the image of God but maybe we are only focusing on the parts of the image that we like the most. Maybe it’s time to reexamine the image or quite possibly re-imagine God all together. Esteemed theologian, Walter Bruggeman, has commented that our lack of imagination is trouble for believers. He posits that when we fix our eyes on one image of God that such an intense focus is holding us back from a deeper understanding and relationship to God. We must realize that our limited knowledge is provisional and very much filtered through the lens of our life experiences; a flexible imagination is key.

I think in the same way that we can’t fully experience the world around us with impaired vision, we cannot fully understand the reality of God with impaired imagination. Let us begin the work of re-imagining God. Let’s shift our focus from the part of the image we know so well to explore the whole picture. Let us begin this work of imagination with expectation believing that we will find great value and beauty in other parts of the image we have yet to explore.

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The Christian Image - Sydney Lewis

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Harvest Sunday, November 6th - Don Compton

Food for Thought - Bob Bentley



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