Over the last couple of years, I have been thinking a lot about using my imagination spiritually.

One author, Gregory Boyd, speaks of using our imaginations in spiritual and emotional healing.

In his book Seeing is believing, he notes that many Christians are suspicious of using their imaginations to think of God.  In part, that stems from the commandment not to worship a “graven image”.

But does that commandment rule out our imaginations?  What is being spoken of in that commandment is worshiping a statue of stone or wood as if it was God.

Boyd notes that we all use our imaginations all the time, often for negative reasons.  We imagine failing an important exam or messing up at work or falling into sin.  Satan is adept at manipulating our imaginations.

Can we not use our imaginations for God’s glory and our good?  I believe we can.

I am sure the apostles used their imaginations when they prayed to God after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  They had seen Jesus and their mental pictures of Jesus would have aided them in their prayers.

My guess is that most people have pictures of God in their minds when they think about him.  It is hard not to.

The important thing is that how I think of God must square with what I know of him from the Bible.  I would be wrong to think of God smiling as I commit a sin.  I would also be wrong if I imagined him rejecting me as a believer because I have sinned.  Neither corresponds with what the Bible says about God.

Picturing God being with me in my situation may help me deal with emotional and spiritual problems.  The apostle Paul says in Romans 28 that nothing can separate me as a believer from the love of God.  So I can picture Christ embracing me and leading me as I go through a difficult time.  After all, Jesus has said he will always be with me (Matthew 28:20).

The scriptures are full of imaginative language.  Christ told stories to convey truth.  The psalmist painted word-pictures to help us draw close to God.  And there is even a statement in Hebrews 12:2 telling us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” which would seem virtually impossible without having some image in our mind of Christ.

Imagination can help me see myself in Christ’s presence, too.  There are all kinds of declarations about believers which can guide my thoughts.  The simple fact that I am a child of God can lead me to imagine myself in God’s company, loved by him as his child.  This picture would represent a truth about me and my relationship with God.

I am now trying to “renew” my mind as Paul urges in Romans 12:2 with pictures of Christ helping me deal with sin and drawing me closer to him.  It is a formidable task as I have allowed my imagination to be used wrongly for so many years.  But I have set out on a journey of hope.


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