Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, August 21

Be imitators of God, as beloved children.
—Galatians 5:1


As he sat there, he said to me, “The trees look like they are dancing.” Then my son asked, "Do I have a good imagination?" "Yes, indeed," I quickly replied. "You have a great imagination. I just hope you can keep it."  

"How would I lose it?" he wisely responded. "Well, some people lose their imagination as they get older.They start believing that things are just the way things are," was my reply. And then the most insightful moment of the whole conversation came as he said, "If I lost my imagination, how would I think about God?"  

From the mouth of a seven year old came the beginning of a new systematic theology. And I think he's right. Without our imagination, God would become a static reflection of our past thoughts, and, even worse, the theological and moral implications of our God would be a mere reflection of what we had already accepted.  

God is always expanding the boundaries of our hearts, pushing beyond where we are, and asking us to embrace an ever-widening circle of understanding. Unfortunately, some of today's religion is pulling inward, seeking a narrowly defined God and a narrowly defined mission. Imagination is suspect if not absent. God is well-defined and who's in and who's out has become the mantra.  

But the God I discover in the stories of the Old and New Testaments celebrates imagination because without it we could not understand our role as God's children. Without it, we don't seek liberation for the oppressed. We get complacent with the widowed and the orphaned. We forget the sojourner in a foreign land. We start thinking that it's all right for others to starve; "the poor will always be with us" gets mistranslated as an expression of status quo.  

But God wants you and me to imagine a world that he so loved that he sent his only son. God wants you to imagine a place where you make a difference and the habits of the heart become the habits of your hands in society. God wants children who imagine a new world where all are chosen, valued, loved.  

That requires imagination. That requires a new theology. And can't it begin with you?  

God beyond my understanding, open my imagination to new pictures of you and your world that my heart might be changed and my hands empowered to bring your love to all people. Amen.

The Signposts for August are written by Michael Sullivan and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.