William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
A small child was traveling by air to a distant city with his mother. At the airport, a kind employee gave him a wing pin to wear. In the child’s excitement he exclaimed, “Look mom, I am a pilot!” In return his mother said, “Oh, yes, son. To me you are a grand pilot, and I know that to you, you are a pilot, but to a pilot, you are not there yet.” In childhood, how marvelous are the wings of imagination. However, somewhere along Maturity Road, imagination must give way to reality in life.
Happily, for most, the processes of education, experience, and maturity succeed in equipping them to engage the realities of life with varying degrees of success as they leave childhood behind. But, if one is to draw conclusions from observation, it seems many miserably fail in the spiritual realm. One cannot be a Christian on the basis of simple imagination. Think with me about why that may be true.
A personal, one-on-one meeting with God in repentant prayer and trust in Christ Jesus is not just good, it is absolutely essential to becoming a Christian in reality. Some folks seek to be a Christian without this, depending on their works, and that just succeeds in keeping them to be an imaginative Christian. Still others joyfully recount such a personal meeting with God as described above, but like those in the parable of the sower, they fail for various reasons to follow the Lord and ingest His Word that is able to bring them into Christian reality. So they continue imagining themselves to be a Christian and when churches are filled with such immaturity, they will soon be imagining themselves to be a church.
Jesus spoke of this problem in terms that are often startling. “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26 In yet another place He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matt. 16:24.
Another problem of imaginative Christians is that they think there is more joy and fulfillment of life in the things of the world than in following Jesus. The great apostle Paul was a man of power, education, wealth, but how did he consider that in comparison to his life as a true Christian? He said that all things that were counted gain to him were now nothing more than a barnyard dung pile. He abandoned them all for the joy of eternal knowledge. Likewise, the true Christian invariably possesses joy unspeakable and full of glory. Think about it. Are you a robotic, imaginative Christian or a real Christian in the maturity of the Word? One day, as sure as you can read these lines, it will make an exceedingly joyful difference for all eternity.