Following the recent release of I Can Only Imagine, we’ve been spending a little time thinking about what imagination looks like in the Christian life.
Here are the four big ideas we’ve focused on:
Today, we’re going for a brief dip in some deep theological water to discuss #3-daring to be creative. Stick with me, because when we come up for air, we’ll be ready to see how WE fit into the rich diversity of God’s creation.
The Trinity and Creation
When Reginald Heber penned these lyrics in 1826, he was trying to put into words one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith: the Trinity.
We believe, by Scripture, that God is one in nature, yet three in person—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
That may sound a little heady, but this is more than an esoteric bit of theological hairsplitting. The Trinity is the fundamental reality of God in Himself. It’s the foundation of everything… literally.
God Created the Heavens and the Earth
God-the triune God-created the heavens and the earth (see Genesis 1:1). The Father spoke this world into being. The Word He spoke was and is the eternal Son through whom all things were made (John 1). The Spirit hovered over the face of the waters as God brought the world from chaos to relative completion (Genesis 1:2-2:2).
The triune God works in new creation as well. The Father appointed a plan to reconcile all things through the Son (Ephesians 1:3-10). The Spirit empowers the Son’s earthly ministry (Matt 5:16) and brings us into a saving relationship with Him (Romans 8:9).
This story ends, much like it began when the triune God breaks into a world of chaos to bring the final, blissful order that is the new heavens and new earth. (Revelation 21-22).
Long story short: the entire sweep of world history takes its shape from the triune God. And, so do we.
Human Witnesses to the Divine Glory
Created in His image, God made us so we would reflect His glory in the world. The Fall complicated this, but God is at work in restoring and empowering His people to shine His glorious light.
That light isn’t a vague religious concept. It has a name and a story.
As the True Light, the Son came into the world and, before He sat back down at the right hand of the Father, He commissioned His Church to go out and tell His story.
Have you ever stopped and thought about that?
The triune God has a story to tell, and He wants us to tell it. As we do, He wants us to engage our all of humanity in that project.
Many Ways to Tell One Story
Throughout the pages of Scripture, we see human beings telling God’s story. Under the influence of His Spirit, they imagine the world through God’s eyes and bring all that they have to communicate what they see. That much is no surprise.
What is surprising is how many different ways they tell the story. Check out these four ways people have traditionally told God’s story.
Written Words (Prose)
The Bible is a collection of written words inspired by God and penned by human beings.
Whatever we say about how God reveals Himself in nature (Psalm 19:1-6), the fact remains that this knowledge doesn’t tell us everything we need to know (Romans 1:20). We need to read and hear the actual content of the Gospel story in order to know God.
Only the written law of the Lord (e.g., all of Scripture, Psalm 19:7-11) read, preached, and taught can communicate God’s story in a way that saves (Romans 1:16-17; ch. 10).
But, is this the only way God wants us to tell His story?
Written Words (Poetry)
Poetry gets its own section, not because it’s entirely different from prose, but because most of us aren’t sure what to do with it.
Poetry gives the Bible its color. In Genesis 1, we get the fact of God’s creation, but not a lot of the rich imagery we find in more poetic accounts of the world’s origin.
In Psalm 33:6-7, for example, we see God heaping up the waters of the sea in the same way a farmer gathers his grain. More vividly, Job 38:4-7 describes creation as a divine building project over which all the stars sing and the heavenly beings shouted for joy.
The point of these poetic verses isn’t to have us ask where God keeps His overalls and His hammer. No, they’re meant to open up our imagination and provoke us to see the immensity of God’s creative action.
We don’t often realize this, but the Bible is full of music: The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), the Song of Deborah and Barak (Judges 5), and the entire Psalter.
Most scholars agree that several passages in the New Testament come from the early Church’s hymn singing (Phil 2:5-11; Col 1:15-20; 1 Tim 3:16; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 Peter 2:21-25).
In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, Paul tells his readers to sing with one another in thankfulness to God. In Revelation, the heavenly host sings loud praise songs to Jesus (5:9; 14:3; 15:3).
We, too are called to sing as we participate with God in His redemptive work. In our singing, we make Him “known in all the earth” (Isaiah 12:5).
As we’ve already seen, the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-7). But the heavens are His handiwork; what about the work of our hands?
Have you ever read the Bible in a year?
If you have, then you know how hard it can be to slog through the back half of Exodus. Do we really need to read every minute detail about the Tabernacle… twice?
It’s ok. You’re not the only who’s ever wondered what the exact dimensions of a wooden table might have to do with your walk with the Lord (Exodus 25:23).
We learn from Hebrews 8, however, that this earthly tabernacle was built to symbolize God’s heavenly sanctuary. When Israel looked at this holy tent—a structure that God empowered them to build (Exodus 31:1-11)—they were meant to see heaven on earth.
Our Place in the Divine Story
This little survey of ours points to a much bigger reality. God has made this world to be a theater for His glory. In this cosmic drama, He’s putting together a diverse cast of actors to tell His story in all kinds of creative ways.
There’s only one true star in this show, and He doesn’t need an understudy. In Christ, we all have a crucial supporting role to play, whether that’s in the pit with the band or standing out front in the spotlight.
The question is: what do you have to bring to the story? What do you see “with the eyes of your heart,” and how can you use your unique gifts to bring it to creative expression?
Using Bart Millard’s story of pain redeemed, brokenness restored, and God glorified, learn to see yourself through God’s eyes and find healing in his approval, purpose, and eternal hope. This beautifully designed 28-day study journal is effective as a standalone study or as a participant’s guide for the I Can Only Imagine Video Series.
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