“When [Jesus] was twelve years old . . . [he was] sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Luke 2:42, 46-47
The only glimpse we have of Jesus as a young boy is in Luke 2. The passage is often taught as an example of Jesus’ divinity. That of course is true. But it also shows us something besides Jesus’ divinity because Jesus was also fully human just like us, and He had to grow in both wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52). Could it be that Luke 2 is just as much an example of how to exercise creative human imagination as it is an example of Jesus’ divinity?
Anyone who has entertained the theological questions of small children might recall the stunning openness of their minds, the way they take what seems familiar or tired to us and turn it on its head, how they can speak profound truth and illuminate complex issues without realizing how remarkable their feat is. “Out of the mouths of babes . . .” we say, which is just an echo of Psalm 8:2: “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
We are all creative because we are made in the image of God, and God has built creativity into the creation as a gift. If entropy—including the lack of imagination—is the result of the curse, then creativity—including the exercise of imagination—is the result of God’s blessing. Children don’t have to be taught to be creative, but it is often taught out of us as we grow older. “Every child is an artist,” said Pablo Picasso. “The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Part of fighting for beauty means redeeming our imagination.
Writer Dorothea Brande understood this. “The genius keeps all his days the vividness and intensity of interest that a sensitive child feels in his expanding world.”
By cultivating our imagination, we reclaim our creative nature, which is made in the image of God. In doing so, we position ourselves to enter into the fallen world around us as agents of creative change for lasting good. Howard Hendricks writes, “Work has a dual purpose: to continue the process of creation (Genesis 2:15) and to counter the consequences of sin (3:17–19, 23). The way you think about God influences the way you think about yourself. Thus we will be Godlike in our work if we recognize it as an assignment from Him . . . Creative behavior begins in the brain of a thinking individual with a desire to cause constructive change.”
Redeemed imagination leads to creative expression with the purpose of bringing beauty and goodness into this fallen world. It could be as simple as sharing produce from your garden with the elderly neighbor across the street, organizing a quilting day to donate warm creations to the homeless, or penning a blog post or article about ways to parent gracefully.