One of the great mysteries of our faith is that Jesus was fully man and also fully God. Jesus, the One through whom all things were created, inserts Himself into His own creation, to put on flesh and blood, to live among us, in order to experience the human condition, and to die for us, but also, to be able to relate to us. To actually talk to us and laugh with us and hug us and live with us. Though He limited Himself in his mortal state, He never relinquished the fullness of His deity. He was indeed the Son of Man and the Son of God.
Well, here’s a mind-bending thought. Jesus was, at one point, a child. He was, at one point, an inquisitive, curious, imaginative, and creative young boy, full of life and enthusiasm and sparkle. He was just like one of the little ones that He invited to come to Him. So when He said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,” He actually knew what it was like to be a little child.
Because He lived it.
I wonder sometimes if, as a young boy growing into maturity, he looked at the lilies of the field and thought to himself, I imagined that. I created that. I picked those colors, those petals, that scent, the time of the year they would bloom. And it is very good. Perhaps the Son of Man, seeing through human eyes, saw all His creation in a kind of divine Technicolor, a holy wonderment, and this allowed him to see beyond mere “reality” to the sanctity of all things and all people. Thus, even in the most desert-drenched, pedestrian, even destitute circumstances, he was always mindful to the beauty and truth that surrounded Him, mindful of the sacred moments and the sacredness of humanity.
Jesus saw the lilies in the field and the birds in the air and all of creation as reflections of His glory, a reflection of the intended Kingdom of God. And if we are to be more like him, we need to have eyes that see like him, foster a curiosity that is open to a God revealed in the ordinary. You see, there’s a type of Truth that exists in the created order of the universe, the display of God’s glory. And that same Truth can be found in the trees that line the street as you drive home today, or in a child’s laughter, or in a winsome melody, or in a formation of geese flying south for the winter. The trees don’t realize that photosynthesis is an astounding miracle. The birds don’t realize that we humans—in the depths of our slumber and in the yearnings of our souls—dream of flying. And a child, in her laughter, does not realize how sacred is her being.
In order to live easily and routinely in the Kingdom of God, we must foster a sacramental imagination. We must learn to live every moment imagining God as present in the world, and consider the world as a living revelation of Him. But perhaps the Psalmist said it better when he proclaims:
So how do we foster a sacramental imagination? How do we see the entire world as a sacred creation loved by God? Perhaps one of the keys lies in the fact that Jesus encouraged us to have the faith of a child. Because it is easy for children to believe that sponges can talk, and superheroes can fly, and Tin Men can have hearts. Children have the ability to suspend their cynicisms, their false paradigms, their small realities, and exercise their God-given imaginations, exercise their faith. So perhaps it is through the example of children, and perhaps in the presence of children, that we might relearn how to have a sacramental imagination.
[NOTE: This is an excerpt from a sermon I preached at Oak Hills Church in Folsom on July 23, 2017 on “Imagination.” To hear the entire sermon, please search for the Oak Hill iTunes Podcast Here. This sermon is one of several I preached in a message series titled, “Through the Eyes of a Child.”]