I keep a little list in my mobile phone of books I want to read. For almost a year, I had on that list “Greg Boyd – Woodland Hills.” Andreas, my leader in Norway, raved about Greg Boyd all the time. He was his disciple in the same way I follow Erwin McManus, reading his books and podcasts and quoting him in conversation.
When I came home to California and started working a job that allowed me to listen to my iPod 7 hours a day, I realized I needed to add a few more podcasts to my repertoire (which basically consisted of Erwin McManus). So I finally downloaded a bunch of Greg Boyd’s podcasts, and lucky for me, he had just started a series called “Animate.”
You guys, this series was unbelievable. I’m blogging about it because honestly I want every single person I know to listen to this series. It’s all about using our imagination in our walk with God. You know how you can go years believing certain truths about God, but then one day you actually believe it, and everything changes? Some people say that knowledge went from your head to your heart. For me, I always “knew” that God was my Father. But, starting in Australia, God took me on a journey over a year and a half until I finally believed that He really is my Father…and a good Father, at that!
Greg says the reason for this head-heart disconnection is that these amazing truths about God and His Kingdom don’t actually feel real to people. The car wash and the grocery list list, the broken heart they are nursing, the strained relationship with their mom, the flailing economy – these things feel real to people because they experience them. People who genuinely love Jesus and want to follow Him find themselves trying to believe His truth while everything inside of them and around them says that it’s not real. They’re sucked into selling out to the values of the culture, even though they are contrary to the values of the kingdom, because that feels real to them while Jesus and the Scriptures and an eternal Kingdom just feel like a set of beliefs. Greg, in what could be his thesis statement for the series, says,
“You can’t fight concrete, vivid, experiential images in the mind with abstract truths and a list of oughts and shoulds. It’s time that we recover a flesh and blood theology.”
His goal in “Animate” is to teach people how to make the abstract concrete, so that we can actually be shaped by it. He does this by using the imagination. Richard Foster says that “to believe that God can sanctify and utilize the imagination is simply to take seriously the Christian idea of incarnation.”
Maybe it sounds a bit New Age, a bit mystical? I don’t know. If you’ve ever felt that tension I just mentioned, when you want to believe in this Kingdom that starts as a tiny seed, as a pinch of leaven, and ends as something bigger than you dreamed, but you see it (consciously or otherwise) as totally separate from true reality, then give this series a try. Download it free from iTunes. Start from the beginning, ride it out till the end. Try the exercises Greg suggests and leads you through. Let me know how it goes.