During this year’s various levels of pandemic quarantine, many of us have become acutely aware that the camera is either on or off. The primary communication medium utilized during this universal emergency has been the computer or some other device. At the top edge of many computers, the camera’s “green dot” shows when there is a broadcast picture being zoomed to someone.
In the case of our teachers, the camera is transmitting their image to their students. Pastors are transmitting their image as they deliver sermons to parishioners. Administrators are showing self-portraits of their face and background to other leaders. Family members around the world are beaming a picture showing that we are alive and wish to communicate.
Never in the history of the world have so many people opened up their homes and lives for others to “see my house.” At first, we were aware of our picture and its background. We worked to get the lighting “just right” to shine on our face. We adjusted the background behind us. We even heard that in the United States, pajama bottom sales increased 143 percent and pants sales decreased 13 percent. It seems that the long commute from the bedroom to the dining room (or other studio) should be comfortable, because only so much of our lives was visible. The most important visual was the camera view. The camera side was who we were.
But is that true? No! We are much more than one-sided monolithic moving images on a screen. While we have coped and even benefited in some ways during this unique experience, there is a much bigger lesson we can learn.
First, God sees all. Let me paraphrase 1 Samuel 16:17: “Look not only at the picture on the screen . . . . for the Lord sees not the way that people see, the Lord sees the heart.” God sees more than three dimensions! He can even see the intent and our full life context.
Second, the people viewing the screen see more than the image also. Many of the best Adventist teachers and preachers quickly learned that just like the physical classroom or church, the virtual screen has much more than one side also. These heroic teachers, preachers, and church leaders continued to use their strongest communication tool, which is relationships.
One of my friends says, “Tell people that God loves them and if you have to, use words!” While the camera side is what is seen, what is felt in the heart is far more important. Students expect a good lesson. They want their papers graded in a timely manner. The insightful question to bring understanding is expected. But what the student and parishioner crave is the personal touch that makes for a relationship with the image and makes the world real! The follow-up text message, the phone call, the physical letter, or small package helps to build and strengthen relationships. We can find creative ways to “reach out and touch.”
Let the world see Jesus when they look into our faces on the screens. Let all of us be known because of the love we have for those who see us—no matter the medium. Show them Jesus.