A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Capturing the Imagination

Forty years ago today Neil Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on the moon. The country and the world were riveted to their television sets as those first grainy pictures returned live footage of Armstrong and his colleague, "Buzz" Aldrin moving around the surface of our nearest heavenly neighbor.

I was seven years old at the time and I vividly remember sitting in front of the TV watching and trying to imagine what it would be like to be there. I have had an amateur interest in astronomy from a young age and what I watched in front of the television captured my imagination for years to follow.

Some two thousand years ago, Jesus captured the imagination of the people around him. He taught in ways that people had never encountered before, he performed great works that first century Jewish peasants had never seen. He spoke of the things of God that touched the souls of those who listened. And Jesus captured the imagination of the first Christians in his death and resurrection, that salvation came from God in a way they had never imagined. Once the first Christians could imagine what God had done for them, they could imagine what they needed to do for others. They went out from Jerusalem and proclaimed the gospel, capturing the imagination on what God was now doing for the world.

God still desires to capture our imagination today, but it can be difficult for men and women in the twenty-first century West to be so captured because too many have already had their imaginations held captive by the things that Jesus says, "fade away." We have been captured by reality TV (what I call voyeur television), we have been shackled to the pursuit of things that do not enhance our relationship with Jesus Christ; indeed some of those things actually sever that relationship. This is not only true of those who do not follow Jesus, but it can also be the case for some who claim to be his followers.

I fear that the church in America is not as captivated by the gospel as it should be; and thus we lack the imagination to wonder and hope and pray and involve ourselves in those things that will captivate others for Jesus Christ. I am afraid that we in the church have turned so inward on ourselves that we are unable to turn outside ourselves and help the world imagine the kinds of possibilities that only God can bring about, and that cannot happen while glued in front of the television watching the latest family meltdown or listening in on conversations that years ago would have been considered as a private family matter.

The Jesus who captivated the hearts of many two thousand years ago is still captivating hearts and minds today. Are we so captivated? And if so, can we imagine the possibilities that God wants to bring about in this world through the church?


Bruce said...

Great Post Allan! Why doesn't the church experience the Presence of God in power and wonder? Where are the healings, prophetic words, social ministries, and do we ever pray anymore for the Holy Spirit in the work of the Church? I know this is all a bit charismatic, yet this is also the heritage of those who follow the living Jesus Christ. We save our imaginations for Star Wars, Harry Potter and trash TV. Our exuberance is only for sports, partying and dreaming of hitting the lottery! Perhaps an earnest longing for the gifts of the Spirit and a prayer for Christ to open his heart to would help.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Good comments. I think that many people in the church are afraid of signs and wonders breaking out because it is a reminder that we cannot control the Spirit.