I was an imaginative kid. At 5 I thought my parents were robots. At 7 I wrote my first novel — a Hardy Boys book! By the time I was 13, I’d decided aliens were visiting my neighborhood.
But then I grew up, and put away childish things. Except, no, I haven’t. I’m still making believe. And so are you.
It is part of the human condition to think outside what we can see. We believe in the U.S. Constitution — that’s a belief that we’ve made. We believe in not breaking mirrors or walking under ladders — clearly, those superstitions are things we’ve made.
Every once in a while, I’m confronted by a terrifying thought: Is God make believe?
You know, Gods have been part of the human story since prehistory. Greeks and Romans had their Gods. Hindus have their own, even more ancient, pantheon of Gods. In modern society, we have our own Gods, too — we just call them Marvel superheroes!
But what about THE God? The one true God of Israel? Is God just something of our own making? The product of millennia of collective imagination? I could see it happening that way, you know. Humans look to the skies to explain why rain comes, or why people die, or why good things happen to some people but not others. A little making believe, and we’ve concocted this God idea to give us some much needed answers.
Is that it? Is Christianity nothing more than made up? Is Jesus a figment of our imagination, ranking slightly above Santa Claus? Is the Holy Spirit nothing more than another spooky ghost story?
No, no, and no. Making believe is not just some childish distraction; it is essential to faith. Without imagination we can never embrace a Creator beyond all comprehension. Without creativity we can never take up what it means to live in the Imago Dei (the image of God). Without the ability to color outside the lines and step into the mystery of the Unknown-Yet-Fully Known, God could never mean more to us than some conjectures in an ancient book.
Robots and aliens may have honed my powers of imagination, but all in the service of expanding my capacity for faith. Isn’t that what making believe is all about? The math is easy: Making belief = making room for faith.
Because of making believe, we can be faithier.
Make yourself believe in a world governed by radical love. Make yourself believe in a messiah who would give up everything to reveal that love to us. Make yourself believe in a spirit that inspires rather than scares us.
Make believe. I heartily recommend it. Seek more of the God yet to be fully revealed, and you’ll meet someone who
is so much more than your imaginary friend.
Have a great week,