Marshall McLuhan was one of the most influential communication theorists of the 20th Century. Regarding media, he coined the phrase “the medium is the message.”
But what exactly did he mean by that?
A medium is a vehicle through which something is communicated or conveyed. Television is one way to communicate a message and twitter is another. McLuhan’s theory purported that the means or medium of communication was intimately related to how its message would be perceived and that the way a message was communicated was as important as the message itself. For example, there would be a difference in perception of the same message if it were expressed in person or via facebook.
When one considers God’s relationship with humanity, He communicates one consistent message: I want to be reconciled with you, to be with you, and to be in relationship with you.
Initially, God’s message of His desire to dwell among His people was expressed through this medium: an ornate tent called a tabernacle. This place was where He resided right among His people. But the problem? Only the priests could really approach God. Although God’s supreme desire was to be in relationship with His children, He was truly accessible to only a few.
Jesus. The medium and God’s message
But enter Jesus. John 1:14 says this:
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
In the incarnate Jesus, God’s medium was His message. No longer was the Father distant and unapproachable—God Almighty became embodied in the person of Jesus, God in the flesh. He walked the earth, physically dwelt among us and loved, served and healed those He came in contact with.
Now that Jesus sits on the right hand of God, we are the medium for His message. Empowered by the Holy Spirit who Jesus left with us, the medium of our lives can make the gospel message believable. The gospel’s Good News of reconciliation, redemption and salvation becomes significantly more powerful, real, and authentic when we offer to pick up our towels like Jesus did and serve those around us.
And when we serve with those we’re trying to be the message for? They get to see and experience a believable medium for the gospel message.
Let me close with this great thought from Alan Hirsch, the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network:
“This is how missional movements grow—through a group of people who have been changed by Jesus and are willing to put themselves on the line for the cause. And the cause cannot be limited to evangelism, as if simply telling someone about the saving events of Jesus’ life and death fulfills our missional obligations. Rather, it is living the gospel in such a way that people are drawn into direct influence of Jesus through our lives.”
Q Place National Church Partnership Director