“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” — 1 Peter 3:15-16
The Power Of Faith-Affirming Words
Everyone’s got a story.
While some in the media like to think they invented such a notion, in reality, story telling has been a common form of communication since cavemen were drawing on walls and sitting around the fire they just discovered. “One time I made a fire so big …” — exaggeration was surely an immediate byproduct.
At their core, most newscasts, news websites and other forms of media are collections of stories. If it were really “just the facts ma’am” then we could probably just put everything in bullet points and be done with it. Why do we put quotes and clips from interviews in our stories when we could simply present the most concise narrative possible ourselves? Where did we get this strong sense that stories need conversations to coincide with the facts?
For the answer let’s look at the greatest collection of stories ever assembled.
The Bible records conversations with between God and His most prized creation: humans. Adam’s and Eve’s loss of innocence after eating from the forbidden tree becomes more relatable when Adam tells God he is afraid to be seen naked. When God sent Moses to stand-up to Pharaoh and release the Jews from slavery, He gave Moses purpose with the words: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.”
Spoken words captured in stories provide emotion as well as greater understanding of the character’s mindset.
For believers in the media, one of the most effective ways to reveal the truths of God is through the words of the people in stories. There are many occasions where people who are being interviewed talk in words and phrases that point to God. Sometimes people directly thank Jesus for saving their life or give God the glory for something good that happened to them. Often, people in the midst of tragedy give the most powerful testimonies of relying on Christ.
Mini-Gospel moments are easy to identify but can be few and far between. What is much more common are situations where people use what I like to call “faith-affirming words.” These are words or phrases that at the most basic level acknowledge that God exists. They point to the fact our Creator has an active hand in our world and He has people who believe in Him.
We need to have ears to hear these words when they are spoken and purpose in how we include them in the media. We hear faith-affirming words when people say they were blessed rather than lucky, thankful rather than happy, praying instead of wishing, or believing rather than wondering. We need to make these words part of our speech too.
Can this possibly make a difference in the scope of affecting people’s eternity? I say “yes” for two reasons.
First of all, we live in a world that constantly wants to dissuade people from the existence of God and wants to eliminate the language of Heaven. “Thankfulness” points to a provider, “blessings” point to One with power to bestow blessings, and “believing” puts us in the mindset there is more to our existence than we physically see.
The second reason for incorporating faith-affirming words into our dialogue is that we have a chance to sow and water seeds of faith. Whether a viewer or co-worker is wrestling with unbelief or wavering in a relationship with God, faith-affirming words can be like drops of precious water to a thirsty soul.
While some might not notice the power of a quote like, “We really appreciate all those people who donated money and prayed for our family,” another person in turmoil thinking about reaching out to a friend to ask for prayers — those might be exactly the words he or she needed to hear.
Not only do these simple faith-spreading opportunities come our way on a semi-regular basis, but we have the power to cultivate opportunities for people to speak faith-affirming words. “What’s helping you through this difficult time?” is a question I always ask that often provokes responses that include faith. “Who or what do you credit for your success?” is another.
Everyone’s got a story. We have to look for opportunities to reveal more about the Creator through His creations.
— Cleve William, media professional