Righteous Imagination


My school had its traditional pre-school colloquium this past weekend, and I attended for the 18th time, hearing a lot of the same things I have heard many times before. The Christian university attracts students from a variety of backgrounds as well as faculty from diverse viewpoints as well. So it’s always interesting when I’m asked about my writing to see what kind of reaction I will get.

“So you write Christian fiction?” they ask.

“Yes.”

“What is that?”

“It’s fiction written from a Christian’s world view.”

“But it’s fiction?”

“Yes.”

“That means it’s not true.”

“Well, yes.”

“Then, why write it?”

That’s somewhere along the line of a discussion I had over lunch Saturday with one of my fellow faculty members who didn’t seem to grasp the value of fiction when it came to Christianity. Somewhere along the line, they have gotten the idea that if it didn’t actually happen, then there’s no reason to even think about it. That precludes the idea of imagination altogether, which I think it not only a shame, but even dangerous.

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out at Vacation Bible School at our church. The last night we were there, we talked to the Juniors about heaven. We started off by talking about imagination. I asked them to define what imagination was, which of course they had a hard time doing. Then I asked them to tell me what heaven was going to be like. They responded with all the cliches that we always hear about, you know, streets of gold, and lions and lambs, that sort of thing. Then we broke them up into teams and had them draw the worst possible things that they were glad they would leave behind when they went to heaven and the best possible things they would find when they get to heaven. Each team them presented their results at the end. Finally we ended with two verses. First, Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” I talked about God’s ability to imagine so much more than we could ever imagine, and how we should be grateful that he is in charge of creating our wonderful world and an amazing heaven that is waiting for us. And then I read John 14: 3: “I am going to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you will be also.” (emphasis added) I told the juniors that heaven won’t be a place where we wander around by ourselves wondering what there is to do, but Jesus will be us, eager to show us all the cool stuff he had made for us, showing us each and every thing. It’s something to get excited about.

That’s the value of imagination. That’s the value of fiction. If all we have is what we see every day, we can’t capture that excitement of new possibilities, and our chance of reaching for what’s over the horizon is lost. Some people just can’t see that. And I’m sorry for them.

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