The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Is Imagination More Important Than Knowledge?

Posted on: November 02, 2016



Elbert Einstein once famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Your imagination is a preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Now, that statement must be understood in context. As Christians, we believe that knowledge is extremely important. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32) So, we would not say that imagination is more important than knowledge when it comes to truth, to what we believe, and to our worldview.

But Einstein was speaking in the context of scientific exploration, and was making the point that we should not be limited by our scientific knowledge, but should try to move beyond existing knowledge to be able to discover knowledge we do not currently have.

In that context, he was making the point that imagination is more important than existing knowledge, because it can lead us to greater knowledge.

Striking advances in our understanding of how the brain works is confirming that this is true, for two reasons:

  1. The brain always changes in the direction of that which is put into it.
  2. The brain cannot tell the difference between a real event and a vividly imagined event.

Because these two things are true, we can change the brain by vividly imagining how we would like to change.

Someone once asked Thomas Edison how he came up with the idea for the light bulb. He said, “by thinking about it all the time.”

What we think about all the time has a profound impact on our lives. Thinking is the precursor to all behavior, as well as our future thoughts. That is, when we think about something all the time, it increases our awareness, enables us to connect previously unconnected dots, and opens up insights we would not have otherwise. A world of potential is opened in our lives when we unleash the power of imagination.

Now, of course, these examples have been from the world of science. But the principle is true no matter what world it is applied to. And we can certainly apply it to the spiritual world. We can release the power of imagination in our lives to bring about spiritual transformation that we cannot experience any other way.

Now, lest you think I’m spouting some kind of New Age mumbo-jumbo, let me tie this back to what we know from Scripture. The Bible speaks a great deal about governing our thoughts:

  • Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
  • O, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97)
  • But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

To meditate about something is to think about it, to ponder, to muse. My conclusion is that the reason the Lord instructs us to carefully govern our thoughts and meditate on Him and His truth is because He knows (having created us) that our brain will change in the direction of that which we are meditating on, pondering, musing about. So He wants to change us by instructing us to meditate on His truth.

We can pull ourselves into a more robust spiritual future by obeying this instruction, by meditating on God, His word, His ways, his principles, and in doing so, change our brains in the direction of that on which we are meditating.

Every moment of every day, something in our soul is being fed and something is being starved. Therefore, we must power-feed our souls the things of the Spirit sufficient to offset the things of the world. And, having power-fed good things into our souls, we then think about them, over and over, changing our brains in the direction of that which we are thinking about, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, grow in spiritual maturity.

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