” . . . started to argue . . . “
“Some Pharisees came to Jesus and started to argue with him. They wanted to trap him, so they asked him to perform a miracle to show that God approved of him.” (Mark 8:11) 
There is a well-worn quote that says, “A photo never lies.”  I guess it refers to the fact that a photograph freezes the subject in a moment in time and allows for close scrutiny.  Of course, in today’s world of digital photography it’s easy to manipulate a photograph to be about anything you want after it’s loaded from the camera to the computer.  Yet, some would argue that even setting aside digital manipulation and dealing with just the raw image from the camera, the photo always lies.  What they mean is that even if there’s no digital manipulation, the camera always lies because it only captures one aspect, one angle, one perspective of the subject.  For example, the photo above reveals a bright blue sky with a rainbow stretching from cloud to cloud.  I could have been in an airplane taking the photo, on a ship at sea, or in a beautiful meadow.  But what happens if I point the camera just a little further to the left?
Now you know I wasn’t in any of those other places. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the church.
I’m beginning to believe we’re living in a snapshot culture.  There are many very difficult issues facing us today in our country.  It’s certainly to be expected that people have differing opinions about the issues and different ideas for resolving them.  However, I’m concerned that when people (not just politicians) gather to dialogue with one another about an issue, there’s not really much dialogue.  Each person approaches the other with a snapshot of the issue, convinced that they’re way of viewing the issue is the one and only way.  As we’ve seen, moving the camera just a little in one direction or another can radically change the results.  When I hear people trying to dialogue it seems as though one side is so locked into their snapshot that they can’t see the other side’s snapshot of the same situation taken from a different camera angle.  The two sides are not really listening to each other, they’re just trying to muscle each other into submission.

Having conviction is important, but it seems to me that I can best trust my conviction when I’ve first taken the time to look at the other person’s snapshot, and carefully considered that portrayal of the situation.  Sometimes fear and other powerful forces can cause us to cling unhealthily to blind conviction.  I can best trust my conviction when I have looked and listened and asked the other side to help me get a clear view of their position.  I want to try my best to understand their position through their eyes.  Once having done that, I might modify my view, change to their view, or stay with my original view.  We need more opportunities to swap snapshots instead of staring incessantly at our own.

When the Pharisees confronted Jesus in the story above reported in the Gospel of Mark, they weren’t looking for dialogue.  They only wanted to insure their position. Nothing was gained by their approach.  Jesus wanted them to realize their snapshot was only part of the bigger picture of divine love that God had in mind through the life of Jesus.  I pray that God will always help me have the patience and courage to resist the urge to cling to blind courage and follow the path of dialogue to conviction I can trust.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on May 20, 2015.

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