There’s a sweeping trend online at the moment for sentimental stories; you know the kind? They usually whisk you off to a video; the title will tell you that you’re going to be amazed, your life will be changed, and you will be awestruck and filled with wonder as an unknown person wows the whole internet. And you’ll watch something sentimental for thirty seconds then get bored and go on with your day.
Can I ask the question; have you ever been truly awestruck by what waited on the other side of the hyperlink? For me the effect of all of these things has been to increase my cynicism and distrust of those words being used. Somewhere, in a sea of meaningless superlatives, we have lost perspective on what it is to be truly amazed.
It reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite writers, C.S Lewis:
Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
– C.S Lewis (1956)
What it does demonstrate, however, is that people have within them a great and driving desire to experience wonder. Why do we – and yes, that is a confession that I sometimes click in spite of it all – click on stories that we know never deliver the emotions they promise? I believe we do so in the hope that one day they will, that one day our cynicism will be proved wrong and we will come face to face with wonder.
Do we come to the bible with the same hope? Do we come to the bible believing that what it contains changes everything, is awe-inspiring, wonderful, etc? Or do we come to the bible like a chore? Or worse still, not come to it at all?
John teaches us that there is an indivisible link between the word and Christ Himself and what was the effect of Jesus Christ on people? They were filled with awe and said to each other that they had seen extraordinary things.
And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
– Luke 5:26
Often we can find we seek inspiration, wonder, goodness, in temporal and tangential places when all the while the very source of those things is near and seeking relationship with us. What would happen if every time we were tempted to click on a link to a mediocre, ad-driven, website in the hope of experiencing awe, we went instead to bible.com and read something?
What if we dived into Samuel and read how God used David in a plot more riveting than any action movie, dropped into Job and realised that faith can survive anything, dropped into the gospels and encountered the Son of God, or the letters of Paul and learned how we are justified by faith alone?
I’m convinced that if we would spend even half of the time we spend on social media, or reading buzzfeed, in the word of God? Instead of chasing a temporal shadow of wonder, we would find ourselves lost in the real thing and our lives would change immeasurably.
Now that? That would be awe-inspiring.