We have surrounded ourselves with screens. On the desk. In the household room. Even in bedrooms and kitchens. Increasingly in vehicles. One for each passenger on the airplane? And most significantly, hitchhiking on our individual all over the place we go, the Precious in our personal pocketses and handses.
Once upon a time, screens got here connected to heavy, unwieldy containers. Not anymore. Now they’re as skinny as image frames, and thinner. Some of us can depend extra screens in our houses than wall décor.
We live in stunningly image-driven and visually-oriented occasions. We do effectively, then, to question ourselves frequently, and thoughtfully, about what pictures we’re permitting to cross earlier than our eyes, and the way they’re shaping us. Moving photos are highly effective. They can arrest and extract consideration we don’t imply to pay them (say, at a restaurant). And our habits associated to screens don’t depart us unchanged.
Yet, in such days, it could possibly be straightforward to be captivated by the screens and overlook the deeply formative and re-formative energy of the nice invisible medium that accompanies them: phrases. Words, particularly spoken phrases, are the nice unseen energy that give that means to our world of pictures and form how we select to stay.
Words for Good, and Ill
Perhaps much more than our different 4 celebrated senses, our skill to listen to makes us deeply human.
“Words are the great unseen power that give meaning to our world of images and shape how we choose to live.”
After contact (at three weeks), listening to is the following sense to develop within the womb, at about twenty weeks, and it’s extensively thought of to be the final sense to go whereas dying. Which is smart for us as creatures of the Creator who’s (amazingly!) a talking, self-revealing God. First and foremost, he made us to listen to him, to obtain and reply to his phrases. He created the world, via phrases, saying, “Let there be light.” He speaks new creation into our souls by effecting new delivery via his phrase, the gospel (James 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6). And he grows and sustains our souls within the Christian life via his phrases (1 Corinthians 15:1–2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
When the serpent slid into the backyard, he didn’t present Eve an Instagram video, or carry out a TikTookay dance. He spoke. He slid his poison into her coronary heart via her ears. After all, God had spoken to create the world. He had given Adam directions via phrases about easy methods to stay on this planet. So too, when Satan attacked, he got here with one thing extra perilous than a sword or boulder. He got here with phrases, leaning on the gorgeous energy of the audible and invisible, searching for to unseat God’s phrases. “Did God actually say . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1).
Who’s in Your Head?
In our day of putting media saturation and consumption, we’ll do effectively to recollect the profound shaping, world-changing energy of phrases.
Whether they’re the phrases accompanying tv and YouTube, or the written phrases of articles and tweets, or the purely audible media of podcasts and audiobooks, phrases kind and fill our internal individual, penetrate deeply, and shortly form our wishes, selections, and outer lives — the entire of who we’re. It’s not a matter of whether or not phrases are shaping us however whose.
Whose voice — whether or not via audio or written phrases or video, or old style face-to-face speak — whose voice is most frequently streaming into your ears, and happening into your soul? Whose voice captures your finite consideration, and focuses you, or distracts you? Which voices do you lengthy to listen to most? Whose phrases are you welcoming most to enter into your soul, to sow seeds of life — or dying? Whom do you welcome into that intimate area that’s your ear?
Do the phrases you hear and cherish most “follow the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2)? Are you changing into “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) fairly than “transformed by the renewal of your mind”? How “highly online” and “Internet-formed” are you? Some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2), however are we exhibiting hospitality to demons?
Two strains from a current Gospel Coalition electronic mail stopped me in my tracks:
Internet-formed Christians are more and more being catechized by partisan politics and secular popular culture. The end result? Divided and fragmenting church buildings, declining church membership, and weary leaders.
It stopped me in my tracks as a spot-on analysis. Christian dad and mom, pastors, and disciple-makers have been as soon as essentially the most formative catechizers. What occurs when the phrases, and views, of tv and the Internet form Christians greater than their church buildings? We’re already seeing it.
Whose Words Are Changing You?
For many, the battle for religion on this era — to not solely survive however thrive as a Christian — is about not simply what we see, however maybe simply as urgent (if no more so), what we hear and to whom we hear.
God made us for the gospel, which is initially a message to listen to. “Faith comes from hearing,” says the apostle Paul, “and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). And how did you obtain the Spirit? “Hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2). “He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you” does so not “by works of the law,” he writes, however “by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). The voices we habitually permit and welcome into our heads have profound shaping energy. “In the sensorium of faith,” writes Tony Reinke in his guide on as we speak’s numerous visible Spectacles, “the ear is chief” (148).
“Whom you hear with delight today will be who you become like tomorrow.”
A brand new yr is nearly as good a time as any to take stock of the audible voices and written phrases we encounter every day, particularly these we habitually select. Whose phrases do you welcome? Whose phrases do you not solely hear, however hearken to with rapt consideration? Whose phrases fill your social feeds and podcast queues? What do you hearken to on the way in which to work, or whilst you stroll, train, or clear? To whom do you flip for recommendation? What podcasts, what reveals and collection, what musicians, what audiobooks? Are your selections ruled by the pursuit of leisure, or the pursuit of God? Instant gratification, or progressive sanctification? Shallow, senseless consumption, or cautious, considerate progress?
Whom you hear with delight as we speak will likely be who you turn out to be extra like tomorrow. As Jesus himself says seven occasions within the Gospels, after which seven occasions extra in Revelation, “He who has an ear, let him hear.”
New Year’s Defiance
As we proceed to type out the results of new media and algorithms, and the way the Internet shapes Christians and our church buildings specifically, we do have one clear, easy, historical, decisive act of defiance.
To these of us prepared to hear and heed the cautions, the answer, of course, is to not plug the ears that God has so splendidly dug, however to open them and eagerly obtain phrases and voices which can be true, good, life-giving, balanced, and Christ-magnifying. Even extra essential than what we hold out of our heads, and hearts, is what we fill them with — and none are extra worthy than the phrases of God himself.
God made us to meditate, not flit endlessly from one message to the following. It is a outstanding design function of people, that we will pause and ponder, ruminate and suppose, that we will stew over fact (and never simply lies), and over the nice God has carried out (and never simply the evil of others). Perhaps, in the event you’re trustworthy, you discover your thoughts fragmented. Texts and notifications, tweets and memes, audio and video advertisements and clips appear to have eroded your capability for critical, significant consideration, and also you’re undecided the place to show subsequent, however simply hit refresh. Make the phrase of God be the place you flip.
Make his voice, in Scripture, the primary you hear every day. And his voice, above all, the one that you simply welcome most, and attempt to take most deeply into your soul via his phrases. Let his phrases be your unhurried meditation, within the morning, and the place you come to regain stability in spare moments. Pray for, and purpose to have, his phrase be “on your heart,” and central in your parenting, and current in dialog, with you “when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
Let meditation on God’s phrase be one nice new-year’s act of defiance in our media-driven age. Half an hour of such unhurried, even leisurely, lingering over and having fun with God’s phrases simply would possibly fortify your soul for the unavoidable drivel of distant dramas, sizzling takes, and idle phrases we appear to come across at each flip on this world. “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).
You will discover, over time, that God can certainly restore what the locusts have eaten. He can rebuild your thoughts, and your capability for focus and sustained consideration, and he can restore your coronary heart, and offer you knowledge and stability.
How completely different would possibly the following yr be as a result of of what you resolved to do along with your ears?