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Have you ever seen this picture of President Grant?
A friend sent it to me. He wanted to know if I saw anything strange. As I looked closer, a couple things jumped out. Grant’s face looked familiar, almost like I’d seen it before in another picture. Then I noticed that all the soldiers were seated – something they’d never do around a general. I could tell right away that something was wrong. So I started doing some research. That’s when I discovered that this picture was one of the first examples of “photoshopping.” Someone had pulled elements from different pictures to create an image that had never existed.
But that concept of picking and choosing isn’t just something that happens in the lab. Unfortunately, we see it all the time in modern-day Christianity as well. The pastor will preach that if you have faith and obey God’s commandments, then you’ll be wealthy. Or maybe you’ve attended a church that measures belief by how long you can stay away from a doctor. They can point to specific verses in the Bible to support their position, but when you look at it from another point of view, you start to see that their conclusions are just like the photo of President Grant.
Because of our limited perspective, we can sometimes emphasize certain biblical texts over others. But we know that’s not what we’re called to do. The central message of the Bible regarding God’s character has been revealed through Christ Jesus. When we lose sight of that, we can find ourselves in a photoshopped version of the gospel that doesn’t have an anchor in reality.
We have a saying here at GCI: “Whether you’re preaching from the Old Testament or the New, make sure you’re preaching Jesus.” That means that in addition to looking at how Scripture has been interpreted by theologians who came before us, we want to anchor ourselves in the understanding that Christ is the ultimate revelation of our Triune God. In him we meet God face to face. He is the Word made flesh. And with Christ as our lens, I know that the spiritual picture we’re part of won’t need to be photoshopped at all.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.