"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bringing It Home

One of the developments in conveying a message has been the use of multimedia presentations. It is no longer optimal for a speaker to just stand up and talk to an audience. Now we expect to engage more of our senses--we will also see beautiful images projected on large screens, we will hear and sing words which are hopefully congruent with the message, we may see relevant poignant or humorous videos to engage our emotions--all carefully planned to bring the message home to our hearts and lives.

Long before the age of multimedia presentations, Paul invited the members of the Philippian church to think about all the ways his message (of the gospel; of right thinking resulting in peace and unity) had been set before them:

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9

They had been taught and learned these things from Paul. This intellectual grasp, while not the whole enchilada, was a good start. At least (he assumes) they had paid attention and understood the message. They had also received it.  Today we may speak of "receiving Christ," meaning we have accepted the message and believe that his sacrifice was sufficient to redeem us. The Philippians had received Paul's message, as they listened, understood and embraced it. When we receive a thing we call it our own. In the same way, the Philippians had "owned" the message. They had not only heard the message from Paul, but they had seen it in him. The way he lived his life matched what he taught. Paul, though mature, was still a fallible human being. Part of what they had seen in him was a full acknowledgment of his weaknesses, his need for grace and forgiveness, and his dogged determination to forget the past (even the recent past) and press on to the fulfillment of all Christ had in mind for him.

Multimedia presentations are fine. Now that we understand the various ways that people learn and imitate things, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using that understanding to enhance the way we present things. As we do so, it is very important that we acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing the Word to life in the hearts of believers. It is equally important that our walk match our talk.

It is not enough to lecture people about right thinking and living. I believe this is part of what the book of James is talking about when it says that teachers will undergo a stricter judgment. People are right in expecting us to live out what we teach, though imperfectly. In humility, if we seek forgiveness and grace when we falter, we are still teaching by example. We are showing others how to follow Jesus, stumbling and getting back up again and again, forgiving others as we ourselves need ongoing forgiveness, and choosing to train our minds to dwell on all that is good, righteous, pure, true, excellent and praiseworthy.

Walk in what you profess to believe.  Teach truth and love well. Cling to the God of peace who is with you always.


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