Let it shine.
So, there's visual learning. That is learning by seeing. And, I am a visual learner. The recent progression of my blog heading is an element of that educational process. It just has to look right. And, the above image looks a little more right than my first stab at it last week. Let's see if it teaches me anything new this week.
And, that's a church matter these days. The people over in the education department, as well as the execs on the advertising floor, remind us that America's younger generations, the millennials and zoomers, are visual learners too. With attention spans clocking in the mere seconds, images must capture them and teach them something fast. It's one of the reasons so many churches have screens, use Power Point and ProPresenter, and have techies on their worship teams today. Yes, there are church people of every age, like me, whose neural synapses are activated by imagery. Still, if your church wants to reach the younger generations, the profound truths of Scripture should be spoken and seen. Preaching and teaching are much larger concepts than the pastor's voice-over.
It's a delicate topic too, this idea of faith that is seen. Jesus warned about self-focused faith that is lived openly for the personal attention. He said, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6: 1, ESV). The applause of men isn't the aim of living faith. Still, Jesus previously taught, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5: 16, ESV). It is a strong element of our personal witness in this broken world, that is, living our faith out there in the mean streets where others can be influenced by a biblical example. It's not complicated. This is our Christian witness. It is more than words. Sure, we should be able to verbalize our faith (see 1 Peter 3: 15). Living it out in the open, for others to see, however, is the real deal.
It's an even greater influence these days, the openly visible faith life. You see, there's this secular mood in our culture today that permits and even encourages religious language and witness. That is, among all the other religious systems out there. But, the Christian voice is basically verboten. Sure, Christians can buy television time in certain slots but can no longer pray or speak in most public venues. Living faith does, however, touch the people around us with profound witness. It is the most vivid and convincing witness of our personal beliefs, the way we live. Jesus explained it in another context. We're supposed to be a city on a hill whose light beams in the darkness. It cannot be hidden.
Here we are, Monday in February, weather patterns blasting us, the Pandemic still an issue, and uncertainty in many life systems. And, here I am, seeking my place in it, with the clear instruction to let it shine.