This is the latest column I’ve written for one of our local community magazines.
How many of you remember the days when photo film was very precious and you had to be really careful about the pictures you took? It was a big decision whether you could afford to buy the 36-image films before going on holiday … perhaps a couple of 12s would do instead.
Then, when taking the pictures, it was important to check before pressing the button. Had you judged the light properly, was the exposure correct, how well framed was the shot, was it in focus?
And after all that the agonising wait for the film to come back from the chemists – the chemists! Or, if you were really fortunate you had a photographic studio nearby. You opened the envelope and found that half the images had been ruined by light getting into the back off the camera or by some mysterious thumb mark on the negatives … negatives!
Then there were the real enthusiasts who had their own darkrooms and developed their own films and could tell you everything you needed to know about apertures and owned two Rolleiflex cameras at 14.
All this came back to me in the last few days when I was scrolling through hundreds of digital photos for some design work and realising how easy it is now to take more and more pictures until you have exactly what you want and discard the rest.
The internet is choc-a-bloc with sites offering copyright-free images for design. You want pictures of a church you can have 57,492! At the same time there are about 3,687,340 images of cute cats so more can’t always be better.
It seems we no longer keep images for posterity in the same way either. We have a multitude of photo albums in the house crammed with pictures that mark our childhoods, our wedding and the lives of our children. But they end more or less when digital photos became the only way to mark life’s milestones.
Now, instead of physical albums we have folders on computer hard drives so how do you know which image is the one which matters?
The Bible says there’s only one. Jesus is described as “the image of the invisible God”. In other words, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to understand how God deals with people, look at Jesus. If you want to get an idea of how God would react if you approached him, look at how Jesus responded when people approached him in the Bible.
Jesus was welcoming to tax cheats, partygoers, wedding guests, bereaved relatives, caring friends of people with disabilities, the blind, the theologically-confused, those who were too holy for their own good … and really good news even for people who were dead. Look it up sometime.
The picture of God that Jesus presents is of acceptance, forgiveness and a willingness to listen but not of being a soft touch.
We have no pictures of Jesus but today his work is carried on by those who have committed to follow him. Many of those are in church on Sundays. We not join us and help us develop more of the family likeness?