The Forming of Images

Another quote from Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps, prompting a thought for today:

Advertising is the direct result of the camera.  “Images have an incredible capacity to generate needs in humans that don’t naturally exist.” (75)  “Images initially make us feel rather than think.”  “Images don’t invite you to argue; they give you an experience.” (76) “Image culture dramatically shapes the way we think.  It also determines what we think about.” (77)

It would be wrong to assume that such an image culture has only existed in our part of the world in recent years.  The reality is that the non-image, linear logical culture is largely a recent and localized phenomenon.  Perhaps the difference now is that we are an image saturated culture with pixels flickering constantly.  Everywhere else, for most of time, there has been a constancy of image formed through the familiar narratives that defined each culture.

That’s the thing about narrative.  It forms an image in the hearer that doesn’t require multi-million dollar Hollywood camera work.  Good storytelling forms images in minds and hearts just as effectively.  In the early days of radio it was the story and soap opera shows that proved popular, not just information driven shows.  Ask a child if they are willing to hear a good story without any pictures to supplement it and they will usually cope just fine!  (In fact, some children would give anything to have a parent who would read to them at all!)

The Bible is saturated with stories.  The Bible also has a meta-narrative that gives us a sense of security, stability and insight into the reality in which we continue to live.  As preachers our task is not to simply provide good argumentation, effective applicational lists or biblical facts.  Our task is primarily one of forming images in the hearts and minds of listeners that will stir faith through the experience of already seeing God work during our preaching.  Our task is to form images so that listeners can respond appropriately to God’s self-giving through His Word – not in any way a mere mental decision, but a heart-driven response to a heart-stirring God.

Preacher, form images!