While I was preparing for our six week series at East Lanier on the Psalms I found myself in Futato’s brief but helpful Exegetical Handbook to the Psalms. Something he said about the nature of the Psalms and why they seem to connect with the ‘everyday’ Christian more than other parts of Scripture stood out to me. Futato said that one of the reasons the Psalms affect us so deeply is because of the frequency of imagery within them.

“Images often grab our emotions before they engage our minds. We feel their sense before we grasp their meaning. As Brian Gerrish has said, an image “stirs the heart, and then the intellect has to catch up latter.”…Images touch our emotions because they weave vivid pictures from the fabric of ordinary life.”

Poetry captures our hearts and minds because imagery invites you and I to imagine, experience, and live from out of that which is captured by it. As a pastor I’m constantly thinking about the images of our culture. How those images capture our imaginations and affections, and how I can meaningfully make a connection between the images of the bible and those of culture. I would trade five volumes of systematic theology for a booklet of meaningful, relevant, and timely images from which I could convey to my people the revelation of God. Not because I don’t find value in systematics, but rather because as Futato and Gerrish suggest, it is through images that our hearts are stirred and by which our minds can awaken and engage the meaning(s) in the image.

The Psalter’s where master’s of the imagery of their day. Oh that we pastors would be master’s of the imagery of our times for our people. That the church would search and find out the images of her situated culture, that she would subvert their more godless overtones with messages of beauty, truth, and love. That we would be known for our creativity, that our God would be know through us as a Creator God to those who don’t know him. That the messages in our images would lead to the grandeur of Christ.

I am finding in my first entrance into full time labor an irony I never expected. The irony that my artistic intuitions and affections are serving me as much as my theological training and preparations. My only regret is that I was not more busy learning and living mindfully with the images of my culture while seeking out the images of Scripture. That my literacy in Scripture was given an appropriate amount of time to develop along with my literacy of culture.

Imagine if we were known as a ‘creative people’, rather than a ‘redundant or antiquated people’…