What happened to our collective imagination?
I’ve read some remarkable stories of the Church being the Church throughout history, taking risks, and changing the world they inhabit. I’ve read of churches standing up to their elected and un-elected officials to challenge and thwart injustice. I’ve read of churches being secretive and subversive in atheistic countries working to not only reveal the God who is already present but to care for people and love their neighbors in beautifully sacrificial ways. I’ve read of churches working against the status quo to topple the entities that perpetuate a standard of evil no one has before noticed; who, with a spark of imagination, stepped up to ignite movements that not only announced the Kingdom but ignited something truly transformational in their context because of Jesus.
Yet somehow with the proliferation of social media as a deafening megaphone of personal success and victory, these stories feel few and far between in our present day American Church context. Why?
Have we somehow managed to short-circuit the collective imagination of the American Church? Have we somehow managed to short-circuit the collective imagination of our local communities?
Has the pendulum swung so completely to the other side that we land square in the realm of the individual versus the potential of the community? Have the egotistical needs/desires of the one truly outweighed the hopes and dreams of the many?
Robert Orben, the former speech writer for President Gerald Ford, once remarked: “We have enough people who tell it like it is, now we could use a few who tell us like it can be.” I wonder if we have lent our ear to the realist, to the deconstructionist, the devil’s advocate for a bit too long. I wonder if our collective voice has become one of pessimism and despair, pushing so hard against the grain of what is happening in the Church that doesn’t fit our personal preference/style that we we have flattened our imaginations. The Church has become the great piñata of late.
Where has our wonder gone, Church? Where has our wonder of God vanished to (or been banished to)? Have we stashed our collective imaginations and the power of the Holy Spirit working through us to accomplish all that we could ever ask or dream, off to the side in order to experience a more comfortable existence? When did safety and security become our priority? And when did the Church become the safety zone?
Our collective imagination, that imagination that once challenged us to take risks and step out in faith has been drained from our hearts and relegated to the jungle of the streets while we watch it dry up from the comfort of our seats. Why are we okay with this?
It’s past time for us to once again engage our imagination, to enlist our imaginations into what God is doing all around us and begin dreaming about what could be possible when we partner with him to bring heaven to earth.