IMAGE-BASED LEARNING AND SCRIPTURE
BY RALPH ENNIS
FEBRUARY 27TH, 2017
The dominant means of learning throughout life is through our eyes. Yes, our other senses play a part, and yet image-based learning is our major source of perceiving the world around us and making sense of it.
Images are everywhere! In the time of Jesus—not so much. Today the average person focuses on about 300 of the thousands of images they see each day. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this translates into about 2,000 full-length books each year. That’s a lot of visual influence that floods our minds and hearts.
In today’s world, it’s safe to say that the generations born after the emergence of the Internet have been substantially socialized with images. They have learned the rules and forms of living in today’s society by watching hundreds of hours of media each year and viewing hundreds of thousands of images.
The Scriptures are obviously words—with many word-images throughout. Many of Jesus’ parables referenced such word-images as seeds, bread, rocks, sheep, birds, etc. Jesus connected with his flock through the visual language they were familiar with.
Image learning can be matched with the Scriptures to better connect life with God’s word. By reflecting on an image that touches our heart—and our hearts are called to be fully in love with God—and reading a passage of Scripture, we can better relate the meaning of the Bible with the realities of daily life.
Here’s a taste and see experience to engage images with a story in Scripture.
What words would you put to the picture below? What emotions surface within you as you reflect on this hand?
Now read Luke 6:6-11 (ESV)
6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Again reflect on the passage and the image: How might this image and your experience of the Sabbath connect with Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath? What might God be inviting you into today?
As you reflect on this experience, how did using images help you reflect on the passage and its implications for today?
For the past two years I’ve partnered with Vibrant Faith to focus on image-learning and practical tools for engaging images and Scripture for spiritual transformation. For more, go to: http://www.vibrantfaith.org/visualfaith/ and http://www.vibrantfaith.org/visualfaith/library/
By Ralph Ennis – www.ralphennis.com