Lens Stare

The deceitful snapshot

A moment frozen in time. An expression of exuberance and excitement captured within pixels. From slick magazines to rectangles rendered in millions of colors upon a computer screen, snapshots exist in many forms and we know all about them.

However, there is much more to the snapshot than meets the eye. By its very nature, it must distort, not reflect, reality. Look deeper.

Frozen slivers of time can stir both desire and disdain. They can beckon us to embrace the portrayed good life or cause us to vow that we’ll run in the other direction. However, they achieve this at the cost of truncating the full story, ignoring causes and dismissing consequences. Look closer.

In the foreground we see the profile of a powerful and experienced man with his gaze riveted upon the beautiful form of a woman bathing in the middle distance, unaware of his attention. The snapshot of David looking upon Bathsheba could evoke lust within our hearts. This is possible because with tunnel vision it mutters deception, “This sensation of desire is all that there is!”

The scene reveals nothing about David’s forthcoming agony and deep pain. David would experience his baby slowly die and would witness his own family being torn apart  because he chose to act upon this moment of lust.

We peer at a whip curled in midair as its tip rips into human flesh. The victim’s eyes are wide with pain. Clearly the brutality is to be eschewed. But how do we react?

Without a context of what had come before or what will follow, our response to this gruesome scene might be all wrong. The man is Jesus, who willingly chose to endure this flogging and his subsequent crucifixion out of a profound obedience to God and love for us.

Years ago I heard an interesting statement. Most of those in prison fixate upon the moment and do not consider a long view of time. If you will, it was a deceitful snapshot about a situation that empowered them down the wrong path.

If we allow a little flexibility to the snapshot metaphor, then commercials as well as scenes of health, beauty, power and success projected through movies and upon the concert stage are also snapshots. Whenever we focus solely upon a moment ignoring the larger picture comprising what lies behind the scenes and the forthcoming consequences, we are staring squarely at a snapshot.

Would we draw appropriate conclusions if all we had was the following high definition photos?  A dismissive grin captured on Pilate’s face as he finishes the question, “What is truth?” Shrewd Ananias with his hands on his hips lying to Peter about the sale price of his land. The authorities forcibly confiscating someone’s land (Hebrews 10:34).

In contrast to deceitful photos, Jesus provides clarity. He enables us to live our lives in view of the whole story.

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:36-37).

Discipleship involves keeping the barrage of snapshots in perspective. We serve the Lord who is over all authorities and powers, regardless of their temporary success, and who will one day return for his faithful servants.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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