Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

My An Arkie's Faith column from the February 28, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

How is your imagination? Do you ever daydream? What do you imagine?

Former Beatle John Lennon wrote a song titled Imagine in the early 70's. The melody is beautiful, and it is one of the most popular songs he ever wrote. But while the melody may be beautiful, the lyrics paint a different picture. Listen to what Lennon had to say.

“Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try; No hell below us; above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. Imagine there's no country. It isn't hard to do; Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too. Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

One of Lennon's ideas was that the concept of God and religion got in the way of world peace; and in the final analysis, caused more bad than good. Karl Marx thought this very same way, and so have many other philosophers over the centuries. Their idea was that if you rid the world of its ideas about God and religion, then the world would become a utopia. People working together in peace and perfect harmony would soon solve the world's problems.

While there is truth to the idea that religion has been a major player in many of the conflicts in the world, when I put my imagination to work, I see something different. When I imagine that there is no heaven, it is scary. As bad as things are in this world, imagine what it would be like if there were no God. If you spend much time imagining these kinds of things, it's frightening. Imagining the world without God is depressing. Let's imagine something different.

I like to imagine the future. When I was a boy, I liked to read popular science magazines. I also liked reading books by Isaac Asimov. His vision of what the future would be like intrigued me. One of my favorite things to imagine is what heaven will be like. Put your imagination to work. What do you imagine heaven is like?

Does the Bible have anything to say about our imagination? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 3:20 (VOICE) “Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us.” I can imagine a lot of great things, but God can do things greater than I could ever imagine. Put your imagination to work. Whatever you imagined, God can do greater things.

I like to think about God. I study the Bible to learn more about him. But can I fully understand him? In Isaiah 55:8,9 (NKJV) the Bible tells us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

God's ways are far beyond anything we can imagine. It seems my imagination is useless when it comes to God. I like to imagine what heaven will be like. But I know that my imagination isn’t up to the task. “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NET)

Do you love God? God has prepared something so incredible that no human mind has ever even imagined it. There are people on this planet that have great imaginations. Look at some of the wonders of this world. The imaginations of artists, writers, and architects are often spectacular, but even they cannot imagine anything like heaven. Have you ever imagined what heaven will be like? Whatever you imagined doesn't even come close to what God has actually prepared for you.

The fact that we can’t imagine what God has prepared for us doesn't mean that we have no information at all. When the Apostle John was given a vision of the new heaven and new earth, he wrote these words. “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:3-5 (NLT) I take great comfort in that promise. Even though I can't imagine what God has prepared for me, I can be sure that He will wipe every tear from my eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.

Gentle Reader, do you want to go to heaven? Why do you want to go there? In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells us, “let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Jesus has prepared a place for us, and he wants us to be there with Him. That is why I want to go to heaven. I want to be where Jesus is. Do you want to be there with Jesus? What will it be like when we see the place that Jesus has prepared for us? I can only imagine!

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