Saturday, May 14, 2011

What is Your Story?

We all have a story. The story of your life is what will define you as a person. Maybe, you’ve never thought of it in that context. As a Christian, we have a personal story as well as a corporate one.

What exactly is that story, and why is it important? Perhaps, more importantly, are we telling it in a compelling fashion? Our story should be one that intersects with the story of Jesus. On a personal level, it is our journey toward becoming the image of Christ.

On a corporate level, it is about fulfilling the Great Commission and reaching the world. And If we are going to communicate that story, it needs to be biblically based. The problem is what is being reflected out to society is often a culturally-based Christian world view, which is slightly different than a biblical world view. The culturally-based Christian world view is a combination of our western way of thinking, media influences, traditional Judeo Christian values, 2,000 years of Christian traditions, and current trends in theology and culture.

Most often we express a combination of a Biblical and culturally-based Christian world view through our beliefs, behaviors, actions, attitudes and thought patterns. As we live out our lives we are telling our story. How can I distinguish a Biblical world view from a Christian world view that is culturally based? Lets look at a comparison of the characteristics between the two. In a Biblical world view, Jesus is both Savior and Lord, and the Holy Spirit directs and controls our lives. A culturally-based world view usually means that we maintain control of our lives. We may make Jesus our Savior but not our Lord.

A Biblical world view depicts a balanced view of the Scriptures. It’s all relevant and equally important. A culturally-based world view is more of a selective view of the Bible where some parts are emphasized and some are ignored. A Biblical world view interpretation of the Bible is through the Holy Spirit. A culturally-based world view is often seen through the eyes of man; therefore, the result is that often two extreme points of view can emerge—one that is conservative wherein God is an avenging God and the other a liberal view wherein God is a loving God. In a Biblical world view, God is both.

A culturally-based world view usually sees God as a distant God. A Biblically-based world view sees God as a personal God, who is involved in the daily lives of his people. In Biblical world view, the believer not only has a life of pleasure and happiness but also one of hardships and trials. A culturally-based world view would rather embrace a life of comfort, safety and convenience. A Biblically-based worldview sees every follower of Christ as a priesthood holder, which means that each of us has a calling and a part to play in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. A culturally-based world view usually sees the believer as one who sits on the sidelines and will occasionally enter the game but only temporarily.

If we are to express our story accurately, we must return to the true origins of the Word of God. Another way to look at this is to think about DNA. We, as human beings, share basically the same DNA as every species on the planet. The differences are only a couple percentage points. But that difference has profound implications. I’m sure you would agree that a human being and an elephant are two different things. There are sometimes subtle difference that are often difficult to distinguish on the surface between a Biblical and a culturally-based Christian world view. That why we must get our story straight.

So how do we communicate our story? For 1,500 years, the Gospel was basically communicated through the spoken word. With the translation of the King James version of the Bible and the invention of the printing press, we transitioned to the age of the printed word. Today, we are in a new revolution of change. We have now entered into a time where people no longer read but communicate through visual image. The key to reaching the world in the 21st Century will be visual storytelling.

Whether we like it or not, the world now communicates through visual images. But, for the most part, the Body of Christ has not adjusted to these new realities. The future is coming. In fact, it is already here. Screening is a way of life. Everywhere you look, there is some type of video screen looking back. Images and what they represent is our new reality. If you want to reach the world with the Gospel, we have no time to waste. We must adapt.

I believe every Christian has a responsibility to embrace the concept of visual storytelling. It is certainly important that we pray for and provide support to those who work professionally in film, media and entertainment as visual communicators. But equally important, we can become producers and content providers. Technology has created accessibility. Thanks to social media sites such as Facebook, we can now share and create videos and photos. Software now makes it possible for those who are not proficient in computers to create our own blogs and websites. It’s an exciting time and a new frontier as the cost of camcorders and editing software continue to plummet. Anyone who has an interest can acquire the tools necessary to become a visual storyteller.

As I said, we all can become producers and storytellers in this new world. It’s often been said that Christianity is ten years behind the times. With the times changing so rapidly, we can no longer afford such a luxury. Visual storytelling is the future. Now is the time to be ahead of the curve not struggling to catch up. We know what our story is and the means by which it must be communicated—visually. Now is the time to implement the plan.

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