Monday, May 25, 2015

The Image of Imagination: Why God Didn't Create Glowing Trees

There are some pretty phenomenal things in this world.  If you’ve ever done any traveling or browsed through National Geographic’s photographs, you don’t need me to tell you.  The Northern Lights, spiders that can use charged particles in the air to fly using nothing more than simple strands of web, underwater canyons so deep that you could stick Mt. Everest in and still have 7,044 feet of water before you reached the bottom, etc.  The list goes on and on!  Our sense of wonder certainly has room to flourish in this universe.  But with all of the extraordinary things in this universe, have you ever found yourself saying, “I wonder why didn’t God make that?”

I found myself asking that same question tonight as I watched a scene from the new Disney movie, Tomorrowland.  In a brief scene, George Clooney and actress Britt Robertson sat together in what appeared to be an orchard of beautiful, glowing trees.  As I stared at this, I was struck with the thought, “With all of the things God created in this world, why didn’t He create trees that could glow in the dark?  That would’ve been so cool!”  Scarce had the thought left my mind when an answer was fired back at me, “Because I gave you that ability.”

Let me explain.  In order to do so, I need to back the beginning of time.  In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man in our image” (MEV).  The next verse goes on to repeat and emphasize the fact, saying, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Among other verses, these indicate very clearly that we as humans were designed in the likeness of God Himself.

But if we are designed in His likeness, the next logical question to ask is, “What is God’s image?”  If you’ve been to Sunday School you know that God is love, merciful, creator, comforter, etc.  All of those are wonderful, but the one I want to focus on in this blog post is “creator”.  God is creator.  Look around you!  Everything you see was made by God.  Colossians 1:6 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him” (MEV).  If God is creator, then wouldn’t that mean that we, being created in his likeness, are creators ourselves?  I think so.

Take for example, robots.  One of the definitions of the word “robot” found in the Oxford Dictionary is “a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically.”  We designed and built a machine to do various tasks that humans are capable of so that we don’t have to.  Not only that, but we designed it to look like us!  We created them in our image.  Now, to be created in something’s image or likeness does not mean to be that thing.  We are not God anymore than a robot is human, but in the same way that a robot both looks like a human and does humanlike tasks, we look like God and do Godlike tasks.

“This is all well and good,” you may say, “but what does it have to do with glow-in-the-dark trees?”  Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”  One of the greatest things God gave us is our sense of imagination.  With imagination anything is possible (at least as a concept).  Glowing trees can exist, if not as reality, then as an idea, an image.

It is by our imagination that we not only create, but we understand the world.  C.S. Lewis once called imagination the “organ of meaning” (“Blusphels and Flalanferes”).  What Lewis meant by this is that we cannot truly grasp or understand something until we have an image that we can attach it to.  By our imagination, God gave us the means to both understand our world and open up one with endless possibilities.

Why didn’t God create glowing trees?  So that we could.  If God had created everything that there was to create, then we could not have truly been given the gift of His image because we would have had nothing to create ourselves.  While we may not be able to create a tree in the same way God can, we can create a synthetic or Cg tree that is unlike anything that exists on earth.

So imagine on, my friends!  It is what we were created to do!  Go out and write stories that point to the greatest author of them all, paint pictures that showcase the greatest masterpiece ever painted, and create, endlessly create!  Let your imaginations run wild!  And so it is that tonight, I became incredibly thankful that God didn’t create glow-in-the-dark trees.  Instead He let us...

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