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Seeing the Big Picture

Christmas Worldview Incarnation

Source: "Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?" by Jenna Worthan, published NOV. 22, 2016, The New York Times

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Shawn Nichols | Date Posted: 2016-12-04

Scripture: Luke 2:7

Author: Shawn Nichols / Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

Jenna Wortham, a staff writer for the New York Times, asked herself a penetrating question as she worked through her surprise of the recent presidential election results. "Is social media disconnecting us from the big picture?"

Ms. Worthan was surprised at the results, and even more surprised that she was surprised. Astute to politics, she didn’t understand why she didn’t see the end results more clearly before they happened.

Then it hit her – social media. She had worked hard over the last several years to customize her preferences. The Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram algorithms did their job and filtered out all the news and feeds that were outside her circles. To her, it appeared that the results would be clear – but they were not.

She points to an ever-growing trend happening in America to filter our experiences based on our preferences, only to find that our perspectives become isolated from challenge or expansion. We don't see the "truth," but rather a filtered edition, our own version of the truth.

APPLICATION

We haven't just insulated ourselves from political messages, as in this raucous 2016 election. Rather, we've taken to insulating ourselves on every level.

Take the Christmas story, for example. These days, at Christmastime, we have Instagram churches telling Instagram stories of an Instagram Jesus in an Instagram manger.

But the picture is bigger than that. Just outside the frame of the filtered stories we tell, are the realities of sinful men, a gruesome death on a cross, and a gospel that reaches into the gutter of where men live. This is the unfiltered story of the incarnation. This is the real story of Christmas.

"She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them" (Luke 2:7, NLT). 

The Theory of Everything

Grace Trials Worldview

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-02-13

Scripture: Job 1:21 ; Romans 5:8

Author: Mitchell Dillon
13

ILLUSTRATION

Embedded in our universe are mysteries that defy any observable explanations.  In fact, for the last half-century, scientists have searched unsuccessfully for a “Theory of Everything”—an equation that would explain the contradiction between General Relativity (how large cosmological objects behave) and Quantum Mechanics (how small subatomic particles behave).  The problem is these two realms operate by completely different sets of rules, as though they don’t even belong in the same universe.

Of course, God can easily create a universe that operates by conflicting rules. And when He does just that, it’s His way of saying, “Try as you may, you will never make sense of this without Me!”

Scientists, however, continue to grope for a theory that will account for this inconsistency, thereby bringing everything under one unified understanding of how things work.  

We have a similar dilemma in the moral or metaphysical realm. There we find another baffling contradiction, not between planets and particles, but between the character of the Creator and the nature of His creation. If God is God, why is life such a mess?  Put another way, if God is awesome, why isn’t life awesome?  

APPLICATION

What’s needed is a metaphysical “Theory of Everything,” a principle that would explain the work of God in this world. The Apostle Paul provided just such a principle when he wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Long before you or I had done anything to deserve God’s love, Jesus “died for us.”

Put simply, the principle of grace declares that God loves us no matter what we have or haven’t done for Him.

The unconditional nature of God’s love is an amazing truth, but how does it help to explain the chaotic mess we call life? It’s simple: If grace is God loving us no matter what we have or haven’t done for Him, then a grace-based relationship with God would be us loving God, no matter what He has or hasn’t done for us! By implication then, the best set of circumstances from which we can live out our devotion to God will sometimes be disguised as the worst set of circumstances.

This was certainly true of Job, who found himself in the midst of a terrible set of circumstances, groping for an explanation for how God could be righteous, just and fair while everything that was happening in his life seemed anything but righteous, just, and fair. Despite his trials, it’s clear that Job understood that God loved Him unconditionally, even if he was a bit fuzzy on how his sufferings fit into God’s loving plans.

Job knew that he had done nothing to deserve the abundance of blessing that had been poured out on him over the years. He also understood that he had done nothing to deserve the grievous misfortunes that had rained down on him, regardless of the poor counsel of his friends. These two facts form the basis of the powerful lesson Job was to learn: that believers are to walk with God by grace, not justice, and that grace has nothing to do with what we do or don't deserve.

Quite the opposite, the principle of grace is all about engaging with God in a relationship of unconditional love and trust.  In such a relationship, an imperfect world happens to be the perfect place for our faith to be challenged and grow.

Would Job still love and obey God if God allowed all that he had to be taken from him?  Would Job respond to the unconditional love of God with unconditional commitment in return? The amazing answer comes, in the midst of devastating loss, as Job triumphantly proclaims, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 15:13).

Although Job never understood the reason his life had taken such a dramatic and tragic turn, he did understand the principle of grace. As it turned out, that was all the instruction he really needed.  That’s because grace really is the Christian’s “Theory of Everything.” It not only explains the otherwise unexplainable events of our lives, it instructs us how to best respond.

So, as you travel your way through a world of good and bad, fair and unfair, remember this is God's way of saying—“Try as you may, you will never make sense of this without Me!”  

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21).

The Life of Pi

Worldview Redemption God's Love

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Paul Barreca | Date Posted: 2015-06-19

Scripture: Colossians 1:13

Author: Paul Barreca
1

ILLUSTRATION

According to our post-modern society, there is no grand story. We all create our own story of life. This philosophy is expressed in the film, The Life of Pi. The film begins when a writer meets up with an Indian man who has a story to tell that he claims will “make him believe in God.” He then begins to tell his life story, how as a child he embraced several different religious practices (Islam, Christianity, Hinduism). He tells of a shipwreck in which his family died, but he survives on a lifeboat alone with a tiger and a few other animals. All of this is told in the first person, inviting the audience yo relive the dramatic story as it unfolds.

Pi then tells of how he was in a hospital bed recovering from his shipwreck injuries and reporting his experience to investigators. They are unconvinced, and when they press Pi, he offers them an alternative narrative. He then tells a story of how he was on a lifeboat with his mother, a horribly injured man and an evil cook who murdered the injured man and then murdered his mother.

Pi tells the writer that both stories share the same set of circumstances. In both stories his mother dies, an evil cook commits murder, and Pi suffers greatly. He asks the writer, “Which story do you prefer,” to which the writer says, “The story with the tiger - that’s the better story.” Pi replies: “And so it is with God.”

[For a detailed summary and analysis of the book, follow link above]

APPLICATION

This film reflects the ideas of a post-modern society where religion is something that we conjure up to make sense of life. What the Life of Pi is suggesting is that there is no Great Story. Just the one we tell ourselves to dress up the real one.

But that’s not the story of the Bible. According to Scripture, God sent a Redeemer into the world to offer healing and redemption, so that our story may become a part of the grand story of God's love and redemption. He redeems not just our souls but our stories!

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14).

A Place for Your Stuff

End Times Worldview Humor

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-05-21

Scripture: Revelation 14:15 ; Matthew 13:39

Author: George Carlin / Illustration Exchange
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The Blind Men and the Elephant

Truth Worldview Spiritual Blindness

Contributed By: Chris Horton | Date Posted: 2014-10-06

Scripture: John 14:6

Author: John Godfrey Saxe
6

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Of Lullabies and Lamenting

Worldview Hope Denial

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-09-20

Scripture: Psalms 40:3 ; Psalms 98:1

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Most Important Things Don't Have Molecules

Apologetics Worldview Faith

Contributed By: Mitchell Dillon | Date Posted: 2014-07-10

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15

Author: Mitchell Dillon
13

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Turning An Atheist Worldview Upside Down

Atheism Worldview Compromise (Convictions)

Contributed By: Larry Lewis | Date Posted: 2014-01-19

Scripture: Romans 1:25

Author: Unknown
6

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On Brink of Disaster, North Koreans Party in the Streets

End Times Deceived/Deception Worldview

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-04-16

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Threat of Leprosy Still Lingers?

Sin Worldview Hardness of Heart

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-04-03

Scripture: Proverbs 11:19 ; Romans 6:21

Author: Illustration Exchange
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