In this series we have seen (1) What the imagination is; (2) how imagination plays out in God’s grand story; and now we will see (3) how the imagination captivates the heart through the sight of what is real.
Our struggle is not new. Even Jesus’s own disciples lacked imagination. Thomas could not imagine that Jesus actual came back to life. “The other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’” Thomas wanted to see with his physical eyes, to know the truth with his senses. Earlier, Jesus had told the disciples what would happen. He said, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise” ( Mark 9:31). God had given Thomas his word, and yet he failed to see with the eyes of his heart. In kindness Jesus didn’t leave Thomas alone. Jesus came and helped Thomas see.
Sight Demands A New Story
So how do we get the eyes of our hearts to see? How do we imagine rightly? The imagination needs to be restor(y)ed. The question is: What story is fueling our imaginations? What do we feed our minds? The story we tell matters because it will either form or deform our minds. There needs to be a lifelong process of positioning ourselves to be restor(y)ed by God’s word.
Sight Affects Both Eyes
How do we see rightly? We need to look with both eyes. We have two eyes: the eye of the mind and the eye of the flesh. Both eyes affect what we see. Photographs, for example, speak to the eyes of the flesh. We can see the visual representation on paper, whereas poets speak to the eye of the mind. Their words appeal to our understanding, our hearts and emotions.
The gospel transforms both eyes. Part of positioning ourselves in God’s grand story is taking the whole person into account. We have a soul and a body. We have instinct and intellect. While many scholars attempt to dissect this in order to find a starting point (Do we start with the mind or body?), this post merely seeks to keep both in view. Both the eye of the mind and flesh must have a single focus.
Sight Needs A Focal Point
We cannot have double vision. Optometrists refer to two eyes looking in different directions as diplopia. Beware of spiritual diplopia. If one eye is on the world and one eye is on God, double vision will occur. Imagine binoculars. Two lenses bring one object into vision. For Christians that sole object is Christ Jesus. The two eyes—the mind and the body—must “pass from double vision to the single object” Each eye must work in tandem with the other.
“People need a robust vision of God,” Veith says. “He alone is the starting point for a vigorous Christian imagination.” Christ not only captures the imagination, but he also captures the mind, heart, and will. Jesus becomes Lord over the whole person. Schaeffer notes that, “the lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarchy between the body and the soul.” Christ is Lord over the whole man. That is true spirituality.
Our minds are freed in Christ. And we will find that “faith is both imaginative and rational.” We will see that the Spirit gives grace “to reform that deeply held picture of God that sits beneath our mind’s more conscious workings.” Our gut responses will be different, when Christ is the center of our vision.
- James K.A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom, 6-35.
- Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 23.
- Mark Johnson, The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding, Paperback ed (Chicago, Ill.: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008), 59.
- Clyde Kilby and William Dyrness, The Arts and the Christian Imagination, 230.
- Francis A. Schaeffer and Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and the Bible (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2006)
- Michael Ward, “How Lewis Lit the Way,” 41
- Gene Veith and Matthew Ristuccia, Imagination Redeemed, 47.
- John 20:15; John 20:29
- Photo Source
- Photot Source