Recently at our InFaith annual staff Refresh Conference, Andrea Graver, our senior director of innovation, created environments where people could experience the work of God. Those environments can be everything from a sculpture of chairs to building a tree to sit under, but they come from revelation. Andrea goes to the Lord, seeks His face, and He gives her pictures. She then translates those pictures into reality. She takes what has been revealed to her about the character of God and puts it into creative expression, which allows us to experience things in new and different ways. There’s nothing magic about the physical space, but when the Spirit of God invades and occupies that space, there is a power and a grace that happens.
The problem is that if we’re not careful, we can substitute imagination for revelation. We can begin to imagine what God would be like. Or imagine what God’s love is, what His peace, His joy, and His justice is all about. When we imagine it, we end up creating a God that’s in our own image. We create a construct of God that is limited to our finite thinking. The reality is that God cannot be revealed in total. He reveals parts of Himself bit by bit that speak to our souls. So there’s a dangerous walk between imagination and revelation. What makes the difference is when God reveals Himself to the artist, the creative person. And the creative, then, interprets what has already been revealed to create an environment for people to experience the same truth. The environments created for Refresh were different in that revelation informed imagination and creativity. We need to be careful of our imagination. We don’t believe that there’s additional Biblical revelation, but there is a revelatory action that God takes in all of us that gives us direction, hope, peace, and an ability to see Him in new and different ways.