If you are a creative writing, English lit, or theatre student, then you are probably familiar with the concept of "show, don't tell." The basic premise being that when telling a story, don't lecture to your audience, don't treat them as stupid by explaining everything to them. Just let the story speak for itself, and let them figure it out for themselves. An idea that Hollywood has seemed to have forsaken for the most part. Yet in those rare instances a screenplay that doesn't forget this cardinal rule makes it through the cracks; many people complain that they just don't understand it in online reviews. I see this phenomenon most often when reading reviews of independent films, where you most often still experience classic storytelling. On more than one instance, I have seen reviewers write blanket statements like "All independent films are completely incomprehensible." Never in any of these specific instances have I ever thought it to be true. The screenwriters simply trusted the audience to discern it for themselves, just not everyone in the audience was up to the challenge of looking beyond the surface. Which makes me wonder, have we, by treating the movie going public as simple, actually made it true.
I bring this up because I must ask the question, has the church made the same mistake of telling, rather than showing. Do some church leaders not trust its people enough to discern the full depth of the word for themselves, much like Hollywood has. The Bible shows more than it tells in many ways. For example, Jesus' parables, they reveal a truth rather than tell outright. Yet, theologians often spend their careers turning the richness of scripture into a cold systemic checklist, much like the Pharisees did. Pastors spend their Sundays explaining what God has revealed to us, rather than showing their church the way towards uncovering it on their own. Leaving many in the church, unwilling and unable to explore truth for themselves. Destroying the wonder of God’s word, and the joy of discovering the beauty of it for ourselves.
Much like the teenager who must work for the money to buy their first car, versus the kid who just has it handed to him. Who appreciates it more? Who takes better care of it? Who treats it with more respect? Are knowledge, truth, and understanding any different?
Think about that before you teach your next lesson. Look closer before you ask, explain this to me. Ask yourself, are you just another person who wants it just handed to him, rather than engage the adventure of seeking it for yourself.
|Click to enlarge|