The Medium is the Message

“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”  Galatians 4:20

Marshal McLuhan is famous for the quote “the medium is the message”, the idea being that the media through which we communicate determines how we understand the message making the medium more important than the message being communicated.

As we have moved more and more into the digital world during the last months, we have clearly experienced how our message can change depending on how we communicate.  We have had to adapt to new tools as we zoom, livestream, text message, email and use social media.  Everything – from worship to pastoral care to leadership meetings and small groups – has changed because of this season.

I would suggest that all the digital platforms we have had to embrace are not the ultimate medium of the message.  They are merely the tools.  However, we need to acknowledge that the tools we use matter in how the message is communicated.  There’s a significant difference between using a screwdriver, hammer or drill to secure two pieces of wood together!  During this season we need to be especially aware of how our digital tools (our medium) affect the message we are communicating.   
McLuhan claims that the tools or media we use are foundational to the message communicated. In fact, in our context the reality is larger than McLuhan understands it because God is at work in the midst of what we are doing and also through us as disciples.   We read in Philippians 2:12: for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”   In essence, this means we are the medium of God’s work.  Through the grace of God, we are the medium Christ uses to share the gospel message.  We are able to communicate this message because Christ is alive in us, empowering us by the Holy Spirit to be a witness to the world of who God is and what God has done for us (Acts 1:8).    

We need to remember that ultimately, we are the medium.   In the end, the gospel is the message lived out by us, not the tools we employ.  Nothing can stop the love of God from being shared with the world through a willing heart.   The tools are there for us – some new and some old – so use what resources God has blessed you with.  More importantly, allow the Holy Spirit within to speak through you to the world.  God is faithful; our job is be the willing medium.   God appeals to us to be the channel of the most incredible news the world has ever known: “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). What is the message?  We are loved by God, in Jesus, His Son, our sins are forgiven, and we can experience the gift of God’s community for eternity.

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