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Devotional: Applying the Bible to my today.
Read: Psalm 119:33-40
By Gabrielle Green
I recently read a book for a seminary class called, “Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence” by John Jefferson Davis. He makes a compelling case for bringing God back to the center of worship services. It’s an interesting book, not necessarily groundbreaking, but good nonetheless. This entire post will be centered around one specific quote from the book from location 2017;
“We now live in a culture dominated by visual images. The Christian’s spiritual imagination needs to be nourished by images that provide better alternatives to the images of the secular culture, which all too often are ugly, violent, sexually explicit or commercially driven.”
This quote has haunted me since finishing the book and it’s not hard to see why. These images go from gory video games to crude and sexually charged shows or movies like unfiltered Game of Thrones, Wolf on Wall Street, or even something like Bachelor in Paradise. I have heard far too many people say, “I’m just a film nerd, I don’t pay attention to the bad stuff,” “That doesn’t affect me,” or “Yeah, I’m numb to this stuff.” I might not be the first to say it, but those are lies created by immaturity. What fills our minds affects our hearts and what is within our heart, from that will our actions pour out. There are images being implanted into our minds daily and it almost seems like we either do not know it or we do not care.
So, what is to be done?
We find an alternative. We replace the bad with the good - the crude with the holy.
Art was created to glorify God and it was used and has been used for centuries to tell stories, specifically in relation to the gospel. I remember sitting in a Methodist church that had banners everywhere with different images and symbols, being in the Smithsonian staring at interpretations of different eras of gospel stories, or there is a painting hanging in our church foyer that was painted by a member of our congregation and it is a striking Asian Jesus carrying a cross on his back. I was captivated and those images will stay with me for the rest of my life. With all of the explicit images, worrisome scenarios, negative memories, and graphic violence that surrounds us in such a broken world, there is a desperate need for the Church to not only produce more art, but to be art’s greatest advocate.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways. -Psalm 119:37 (ESV)
What would it look like for Christians to recognize the negative influence and instead of solely complaining about it, actually replacing it with something good? What would change in our homes and in our own minds, if we were haunted by images of the gospel instead of scenes from a scary or crude movie? During this season of isolation, we have the unique opportunity to create more and consume less. Let’s do that. The eyes are the path to the soul and our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, so let’s not set ourselves up for failure.
Ideas for Action:
- Limit your media consumption (Social media, TV, Gaming). This can look like putting a block on your phone, so that you don’t see violent or sexual images. We use VidAngel quite a bit on our TV and that filters stuff out that I don’t want in my mind!
- Take a night off from media and do some art! Maybe it’s a craft, a painting, calligraphy, wood burning or cake decorating; make something that tells part of a story from the Bible or talks about attributes of God.
- Spend some time on the internet looking through paintings of the gospel throughout the centuries and allow them to bring you to a place of awe and worship.
- Go for a walk! You might be in self-quarantine, but you can still go see God’s creation around the neighborhood!
Gabrielle Green is the Worship Arts Minister at Highland Park Christian Church in Tulsa, OK. Connect with Gabrielle on her blog, Living Rescue, where she provides inspirational and practical insights for biblical living.
A special thank you to Ali Carlton, Adam Koloff and Eunjoo Vue for sharing their spiritual imagination with us through their incredible paintings and photography.