Imagination and Suffering Christianly

We can say this:

At the center of all the ugliness in the world is a sacrifice that calls us to change the way we think about things. There is for us a man on a cross, who shows us where God has entered into our pain, our suffering our emotional state, and said “enough.”

God has not chosen to abstain from us, and to stand aloof, the cross is where we know that God is on our side. An ugly world stood in need, and we “held him of no account.” (Isa. 53:3) Jesus shows us how God imagines the future, through the fact of his resurrection, God’s imagination about our world is one that sets all things right, that faces the realities we face, and stands alongside us.

We have one who stands in our midst alongside us, showing us that this suffering is not the end, that our suffering is not the end. There is a man who has entered into the heart of where the world feels pain, and he is calling us to go there too. He has asked us to enter his life, his teachings, and take upon ourselves his yoke, his burden, his love.

Imagination is not about feeling peppy, but rather is an active engagement in thinking creatively about reconciliation. Christian imagination is as much about ecstatic joy as it is about ecstatic engagement with the reality of suffering. While it leads us to aesthetic beauty and works of art, it leads us into the shadow of the cross, it is from the sufferings of Our Lord that we learn to see the world rightly. Christians do not assume we see reality, rightly, in fact we must assume that learning to see reality rightly is the first task of our imagination.

The Christian Imagination calls us to enter into that same place where the world feels pain, and actively imagine what the love of God looks like there and to set about the task of expressing and ushering in that love, be it in architecture, music, art, sculpture, painting, reflection, philosophy, theology, conversation, ecology, and everything else.


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