One Saturday, I had a bit of free time and decided to edit a few images from a recent photoshoot. If I did my job right and set my camera up correctly, it is typically very little work. More just small touches. But that was not the case with this one picture. I loved the image, but just couldn’t seem to balance the lighting. For those who don’t know, photography is a balancing act of light and darkness, highlights and shadows. Too bright and you lose detail and color, too dark and features disappear. So, there I was, getting frustrated when something dawned on me. A way to discuss the spectrum of Christianity through something I know, photography.
The Widening Spectrum of Christianity
The truth is that the title of “Christian” is a bit too broad today. There are many who simply refer to themselves as Christians because they grew up that way but really only have an early foundation, at best. Others live their life the way they see fit but become a different person the moment they walk through the church doors. Then there are those who are devout Christians, filling their entire life with Christ and define themselves by their faith. And of course, a wide spectrum of Christians in between all of these.
Today’s Christianity brings with it a spirit of indifference. Perhaps it is social media, pandemics, wars, financial worries, the focus on self-identity, etc. But we are losing that connection to God and discovering the purpose, for which, He created us. Many “Christians” are opting to create an Earthly persona. An image of ourselves we wish to be seen as by others instead of embracing who we really are.
Using Photography to Explain the Spectrum of Christianity
So, how does photography play into all this? 1 John 1:5 says “… God is light, and in him is no darkness..” Living on this spectrum of Christianity, we are trying to balance light (good) and dark (sin). Keeping one foot in the world and one foot in faith. Just like a photographer edits his or her images by sliding the shadows up or down, we are trying to make an Earthly picture of how we want to appear to others. We adjust who we are and what we represent based on our environment. But God is light, in Him there is no darkness. God’s picture is so overexposed it comes out pure white. No detail, no contrasts, no shadows, and unchanging.
If we are to embody the Christian faith, we cannot try to add these extra “details” in our life. We have to overexpose ourselves to God’s love and will. To walk in a way where there is no contrast. We aren’t balancing shadows here, there is no perfect amount of darkness (sin). As an example, we can’t say, “well God said do not commit adultery, that’s pure darkness (sin and evil).” “But perhaps I can slide my ‘shadows’ up a bit and just watch pornography.” “Perhaps I can balance my shades of darkness up a little to an acceptable shade of grey.”
No One is Perfect
We will stumble, we will always fall short of God’s glory. But these are mistakes that we make on our path through sanctification. God helps us on this path. The deeper the relationship with Him, the more we overexpose that picture until only God is recognizable through our image. But if we start trying to balance our lifestyle, we are still living in sin and not working toward repentance. Falling short by mistake is one thing, but creating a lifestyle in that sin, no matter the shade, leads us down a road away from God and His progress for our lives. I am as guilty as anyone for trying to balance my place in this world. It is something I have to work on every day. And I am only successful when I turn over my image for God to edit for me.
If God is part of our decisions, our actions, and our mindset, we can begin removing those unnecessary shadows in our lives. And it becomes easier, God makes it easier every time you turn away from temptation and keep your eyes on Him. He has a way of blessing you with peace when you decide to turn your back on the worldly opinions and look only for His acceptance.
Spectrum of Christianity: Where to go from here?
The takeaway is that you are a creation of God that He created with purpose. Just like any child that wants to be like their father, we should strive to live our life in God’s image, not embrace the spirit of indifference. God does not portray a spirit of indifference; He has always been all in or all out. Therefore, if indifference and worldly opinions are not of God, who are we serving with these attitudes? Not God, that’s for sure.
We will trip up and fall short, adding some dark shadows to our image. But Christ is there to take those spots away. However, salvation through our Savior is not an excuse to find the shades of grey in which to live. As Christians, we represent the Creator of the Universe! Let’s strive to make those periods of darkness shorter and push to overexpose our image with God’s light. Not only will you see God’s work in your own life, but also begin to see His light shine through you and begin exposing other images all around you. God has a great purpose for you. Temptation and doubt can take that away but only if you let it lead you away from God’s perfect plan for your life. Amen!
By Jon Frederick and Kathleen Frederick with Seven11 and authors of “Immersion- An Inspirational Christian Photography Collection and Devotional“