It is no secret that some kids have imaginary friends. Depending on the study, the percentage of kids with imaginary friends ranges from 37%-65%. Have you ever thought of how a non-believer sees no difference between you having an imaginary friend and you believing in Jesus? In the non-believing mind, both are made up and figments of the imagination. At best, we are humored and at worse, we are criticized.
After a quick study of Imaginary friends, there are some theories offered as to why kids have imaginary friends. Two things often mentioned is the imaginary friend is someone that can bring comfort to a child and the imaginary friend is someone a child can rely on.
Do you see Jesus as someone you can rely on and be comforted knowing He is with you? How is this different than having an imaginary friend? Only you can answer that question. We must be honest; it is a tough question to wrestle with. The first and obvious answer is that Jesus is a real person who lived in real time and there were several witnesses to Jesus.
John 1:14-18: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Jesus does bring us comfort and we can rely on Him. Just because there are similarities between a child having an imaginary friend and how we see Jesus, this does not mean they are the same thing. As stated already, Jesus is real. Perhaps a more significant question would be this, “Do you live as if Jesus is real?”
Thankfully, for you and me, even though we don’t always live as if Jesus were real, Jesus still died for us. It is amazing to think about. Jesus, who knew we wouldn’t live for him, still died for us. We also know that through His resurrection, we will be able to live with Him for all eternity, where we will see Him face to face.
Pastor Jim Gwaltney, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Irvine, CA