As we head into the final month of summer the political contest is in full swing. Both political conventions are over and we’re headed for the debates. I’ve been fascinated this election cycle by the power of messaging. More than ever I’ve been awed by the power of words and images to sway people.
I now see in ways I didn’t before how successful candidates use words and images to brand themselves and others. They get ideas stuck in people’s heads which move them to act in certain ways. It’s amazing.
We could bemoan the fact that we’re so susceptible to being influenced, but where would that get us? It wouldn’t change anything. That’s reality. Instead, we should take this as a valuable lesson. We need to be watching what words and images are influencing us!
The German evangelicals who founded Salem took the approach that we’re not worship God in images but the use of images in itself isn’t bad. Indeed, it’s helpful.
God commanded that images of things in heaven be incorporated into the tabernacle.
“Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them” (Exodus 26:1 ESV).
He wanted the image of heavenly beings to influence them.
Paul spoke of clearly portraying Christ as crucified (Galatians 3:1). He wanted that image to influence those early Christians. The Bible recognized the power of words and images long before modern-day politicians and marketers. The key to our transformation is letting God’s word and images shape us.
That’s why we need the church. We support and attend church because it brings us a different word, a divine word, and it brings a different image, a divine image. What is that word and that image? Jesus Christ. Specifically, Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
As that word colors our thinking it changes us. It exposes the lie of self-salvation. It simultaneously reveals the end of our sin, which is death, and the means of our salvation, which is Christ. And it shows the form of our sanctification (of our becoming like God); it’s in dying to self and in sacrificially giving to others.
This election cycle may we be reminded to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. May that word influence us and motivate us, for that word alone brings never-ending and overflowing life!