My big, beefy imagination is usually overkill for most of the tasks requiring creativity in my life. But that inner world becomes a whimpering Barney Fife when it comes to one really important area. I can not comprehend how God can transform the church from a weary, jaded and frequently unfaithful renegade with a kaleidoscope of personalities and terrible habits into a pure, innocent partner with eyes only for the Son.
But that is Scripture’s story. The author of that story tells us that he sees something in the Church that we don’t see in ourselves.
All I can see is who she is right now. Let’s be honest here. It is not always a very pretty picture. It can make me feel a little hopeless.
It is helpful in those moments if I muscle aside ol’ Barney and press my nose up against the dim glass. If I peer intently, these sorts of images will give me a glimpse of what God sees when he looks at the end of the story:
- The unflinching confidence in God demonstrated by someone who has been imprisoned for his faith
- The humbled words “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
- A piece of refrigerator art
- A bag of groceries, given without any strings attached to someone in need
- An ancient hymn sung by a stranger at the bedside of a dying 82 year-old woman in a filthy, forgotten nursing home
- A mutt of a congregation standing together as one to sing praise to God at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning
- A busy believer deciding she’s not too busy to tutor an uncooperative 11 year-old every Wednesday afternoon at an under-resourced elementary school
- A brand new well in an African village, giving cups of cold water in Jesus’ name
- Someone praying for a prodigal to come home
These are guaranteed to renew my sanctified imagination – and refresh my hope.
What sorts of images renew hope about the Church for you?