The power and paradox of media
Many years ago, the subject of Christian television came up
during a conversation I had with C.M. Ward, who had recently retired after 23
years as Revivaltime radio speaker. In comparing radio and television, Brother
Ward observed, “The problem with television is that it’s so difficult to let
Jesus come through.”
In missions, electronic media can reach many places where
missionaries physically can’t go. The power of electronic media — whether
broadcast on the Internet, television or radio — is undeniable. Media
gives people the ability to disperse and multiply their message. This issue
then becomes critical: “What is the message being multiplied?”
In most metropolitan communities in the United States, two
or more Christian channels are available 24/7. Any casual perusal reveals one
blatantly evident fact: The personality of people on television becomes central
by nature of the visual medium. The person on the screen can become the primary
focus instead of the message.
In New Testament times, photographs and audio recorders did
not exist. The only people who knew what Paul the apostle actually looked like
were those who had seen him in person. Only people who had actually heard him
speak could recognize the sound of his voice. Yet in his epistles, his image
and voice were not components in his message.
The goal of missionaries involved in broadcasting is not to
create platforms for media celebrities. Rather, the focus of endeavors such as
International Media Ministries, Asia Pacific Media Ministries and Unsión
Television — the ministries featured in this issue — is our Master
and how He can and will change lives if people are given the opportunity to
hear about Him. Their message is simply Jesus…and that He is, as the Samaritans
in John 4:42 were the first to declare, “the Savior of the world.”
The term Christian celebrity could be considered a contradiction
in terms. We are Christians only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of His
Son. The word celebrity comes from the word celebrate. The only Person we
should truly celebrate is our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christian television to be truly Christian, it must
focus on and glorify Christ. As the apostle Paul said, “That in all things he
might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18,NASB).
In Christian communication, we need a holy fear of placing ourselves rather
than Christ at center stage. Without that precaution, God may just lift His
hand of blessing and leave us to our own dismal show.
In this issue you will read about several dedicated
missionaries with a clear focus — not to promote themselves, but to
communicate Jesus Christ and empower others to do the same in their own
language and culture. They are “letting Jesus come through” the powerful
electronic media that are vital to the “every available means” we use to
evangelize a lost world.
RANDY HURST is communications director for AG World