God Trusts Media

The media is often thought of in terms of newspapers, television, radio, internet, magazines, etc. However, "media" is the plural form of the word "medium." Newspapers, T.V., and radio are just singular examples of media. Media is not limited to these expressions because "media" is just the name we give to all the tools used to communicate to a wide audience. 

Media is neither good nor bad, however much we want to qualify "the media", they are only tools for communication.

When God communicates with creation, God uses media. Or put another way, God uses a number of mediums/tools to communicate with us. God uses Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience to be sure. However, to the Christian, the greatest medium God uses to communicate is Jesus Christ. And when Christ departed this earth, Christ trusted other human beings to be the media of the Gospel. 

We are the media of God's love.

We are the media that God trusts.

What I say to people who try but cannot connect to God

Many people have come into my office and ask some for of the following, "How do I find God?"

The assumption underlying this question is that God is somewhere else and that it is our quest as human beings to find where God is. Like Dorthy looking for the Great Wizard, we seek out a path that will take us to the one we desire to see. 

Most of the time, these people come with a sense of exhaustion and defeat. They have been trying to find God and yet it seems so illusive. They have tried all sorts of things, but nothing seems to draw them closer. So in their desperation I tell these weary travelers, the same thing:

Stop trying to find God. 

The entire Christian message of God coming in the life of Jesus Christ is a story about God finding humans. Jesus even shared different parables that expressed this. Such as a Shepard leaving his flock in order to find the one that is lost. The one sheep is not able to find the Shepard, but the Shepard can find it.

This coming Sunday marks a new year of the Christian calendar, we call this first season Advent. Advent means coming. That is to say, God is coming into this world in the life of Christ.

God is coming to find us all who are lost. God is coming to the broken world. God is coming to all of us who are unable to find him. God is coming to all of us. 

God ceases to be anything at all

We all have an image or images of God in our minds that shape our spirituality. If we have an image of God that is like a difficult to please male figure, then we may have a lot of guilt in our lives or a lot of fear that we are disobeying. If we have an image that God is love, then we may lack a sense of justice or even personal piety. If we have a God image that God is more of a Spirit then we may be inclined to be drawn to the mystical stories of the world. 

But in the end, most God images tend to share the idea that God is something, to channel Karl Barth, "Wholly Other". That is that God is something else. 

In my devotional time I came into a selection of readings which reminded me, once again, that God really is not something else. Well, here you can read this:

God is no longer the Friend I meet, the Father with whom I hold converse, the Lover in whom I delight, the King before whom I bow in reverence, the Divine Being I worship and adore. In my experience of prayer God ceases to be any of these things because he ceases to be anything at all. He is absent when I pray. I am there alone. There is no other.
If this experience persists – and is not the effect of ‘flu coming on or tiredness – it means that something of the greatest importance is happening. It means that God is inviting me to discover him no longer as another alongside me but as my own deepest and truest self. He is calling me from the experience of meeting him to the experience of finding my identity in him. I cannot see him because he is my eyes. I cannot hear him because he is in my ears. I cannot walk to him because he is my feet. And if apparently I am alone and he is not there that is because he will not separate his presence from my own. If he is not anything at all, if he is nothing, that is because he is no longer another. I must find him in what I am or not at all.
— Tensions by H.A. Williams

We cry out into the world things like, "Where is God in that" or "I cannot hear God" or "Why can't I see God". But Williams is right, God is not "Wholly Other". God is not "out there" or separate from the world. 

When we talk about the incarnation at Christmas time, one of the Truths that the story of God becoming man is the Truth that God is no longer alongside us. God is within us, connected to us. And we too are bound to and interwoven with God.

God became human. God united the "Wholly Other" with the "wholly common". 

This is the great news of the incarnation. God ceased to be anything at all and became flesh.

More on the coins of Caesar

To follow up from the previous post, Jesus is not talking about taxes

Marshall McLuhan was noted for saying a number of things about communication, perhaps none more famous than "the medium is the message". 

This next quote either is hyperbole or is exactly how McLuhan feels about the power of the medium when he says the content of a message "has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb.”

The point being that the medium you use to convey a message carries more power than the content of the message. This is in part why when you talk bad about your family it is much more acceptable than if I talk bad about your family - even if we say the exact same words. This is another reason why people cite Bible passages in order to justify their positions. If you have the medium of scripture then it carries with is additional weight than if a person shares their thoughts. The medium is a very powerful voice in the message. 

And so when we read that Caesar would put his image on the coins of the empire, then the coin is the medium of the message of Caesar. Since coins are used in every transaction in all aspects of the Empire, since nothing can happen without the shiny head of Caesar being involved, the message of Caesar is clear - I am present everywhere and I am all powerful. My image is what makes it possible to do anything. I am the god of these parts and I will change the world through these coins. 

When Jesus reminds us that humanity is made with the image of God impressed upon us then it also is worth noting that we are the mediums of God message. And through this medium of humanity God's message is clear - I am focused on relationship not on economics. At times I am strong and at other times I am weak. I bleed and cry and shout. My image makes it possible for life to be made. I am the god of these parts and I will change the world though these people. 

You and I are God's medium for God's message. Christians articulate that the Good News is not just that Christ died for us but that God lived for us. God could have chosen any sort of medium to convey the Good News. God chose a human being.

And that medium, Jesus, changed the world. We do not have every word that Jesus said but the content of his message is as important as the stenciling on a bomb. It was his life that was the message. It was the way he lived that changed the world. 

McLuhan popularized it, but God created the fact that the Medium is the Message.