Have words lost their power in a picture-driven world?

Loren Covarrubias Blog

This past week, I went to the grocery store with a coupon for free milk. The picture on the coupon was of a gallon of milk. However, when I went to get the milk, I noticed that it said it was for any milk 32-64 ounces. I knew that there were 128 ounces in a gallon, so my first thought was, “They fooled me.” I have always been motivated by doing the right thing, and don’t have any problem telling others when I don’t think things are right. Since I considered that deceptive advertising, I was prepared to complain. When I explained to the clerk that the picture was different than the information, I was surprised at his response. He just assumed the picture was the criteria for the value of the coupon, not the information. I was pleased with the answer, but suspicious of whether he knew what he was talking about, so I proceeded to the customer service desk for further clarity. When I told this clerk the dilemma, she assumed I was wrong in thinking that there were 128 ounces in a gallon because it wouldn’t make sense to display the wrong picture. She decided to look it up on her cell phone to confirm my error, but found out I was right. She turned to the supervisor with the dilemma who said, “The picture couldn’t be wrong.” She assured me I would have no problem with the coupon, and I didn’t, but I found it interesting that facts were unimportant and everyone assumed the picture was the guiding information.

This may seem insignificant to most people, but as an observer of human behavior, I found it quite telling of the times. I spent the first 10 years of my working life in a grocery store working in the dairy department, so I knew right away what ounces made up the different categories. The funny thing to me is, I also noticed that none of the milk had the ounces listed, so no one could have checked the coupon out if they did not have the information. This of course, is a whole different world than I operated in 35 years ago.

Are We Settling for Pictures when Jesus Gave Us Words?
When I was 12, my sister and I had a paper route. In those days, it would be unusual for a house not to get a newspaper. Today, newspapers throughout the nation are closing; very few people read them since we have so many other sources of information. The newer forms of communication must compete for viewership based on visual attraction; hence, pictures have become more important than words. To me, it is interesting to see how society is framed by how we get our information. Although they say, “A picture paints a thousand words,” the reality of this is not true. A picture can paint a broad spectrum, but the information is left more to the interpretation of the individual. Have you ever been to an art show and seen people discuss what the artist meant by their picture? This explains why we live in a world where people feel everything in life is open to personal interpretation.

When Jesus ministered, He spoke in parables; He painted pictures with His words. The words were the foundation of His pictures. The world now operates from the other perspective. As Christians, we must understand this change to reach our world for Jesus, but we must also understand that the power of the Gospel is in the words spoken. In a world falling more and more into bondage, we must remember that it is the truth that will set us free. The world is succumbing to the bondages of opiate medications. In our society, we see heroin killing both young and old at an unprecedented rate. We cannot have an impact on the world by selling images; we can only change our world through the power of the anointed Word of God. Sound bites might make for good television and powerful marketing in a media-driven era, but in the Church, we must remember the power of the words He spoke.

The world was framed by the Word of God. The world will also be saved through His word. Join me in being Word-centered—let’s usher in the transformation power of His message!