…when a picture speaks…

The pictures within this post are not things that I went searching for online. In fact, they were from a link that I found on Facebook. There was a catchy title to the slide show and so I clicked on the link and found myself engulfed in the pictures that followed. side of the mountain

The truth of the life that we lead in 21st Century America, no matter how much I love and regard the printed word, is that we are a culture of images. We want to wring as much “experience” out of something as we can with the least amount of involvement and effort. To properly describe the above picture, and I don’t mean in a single descriptive sentence, would be painstaking. Finding the language and word pictures to help the reader experience the breath-taking power of the event is not easy. While I do believe that when authors do this well it can be more moving than an image, I do not believe that most people, in our age would take the time to actually read it – while they would almost certainly take the time to look at a photo.

I say all of this to simply remind us that in a world of images our actions, and what old timers used to call “testimonies”, are the closest things to pictures of God that a lot of people will see. Is there a breathtaking, awe-inspiring, make-you-want-to-go-there quality about us? Or are we blurry, common, and dreadfully uninteresting? I think the question bears tree climbingasking, “if I was the only picture of God’s work someone was allowed to see, would they want to meet Him?”

I heard Erwin McManus offer this powerful insight recently:

It’s more important to do something right than to do nothing wrong.

– Erwin McManus

I have found that statement echoing in my mind and heart for the last few days as I have been forced to wonder about people’s perception of me. Am I more concerned with checking off the “boxes of holiness” or with pushing back the darkness in the world with the light of the hope Jesus Christ? Which picture is more compelling (and I do understand that you an argument can be made that we can do both, but look around, do the majority of people seem to be able to concentrate on two ends of any spectrum very successfully)? The Apostle Paul referred to us, Christians, as “living letters” that are sent from God to the world  to let them know of His love, grace, and beauty. Maybe, if I could stretch the metaphor a bit, we are postcards. Pictures with a return address and a simple message.

You have a page where He keeps a record of you, not like a police file (which is how I’m afraid some of us see it), but like a family album. Our lives are the pictures in God’s photo album. You think that’s a stretch? Read this passage slowly:

[4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV

Verses 6 and 7 seem to indicate that one of the golden reasons God does so much for us and in us is so He can hold us up and show the universe just how beautiful He is. Remember when Satan himself came to confront God? God pulled out the photo album and said, “have you seen this picture of Job?” cliff camping

So the question is, what do our pictures look like? They are beautiful because of His love, no matter what that is true. But are they exciting? Are they thought provoking? Would they cause anyone else to wish they were in that picture with you?

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