Spoken Word: “#NoFilter Necessary”
Friends, here’s a short piece I wrote in response to the beauties of God’s handiwork. I was struck by how many people, regardless of their standing with God, implicitly testify to his magnificence inherently displayed in creation. We do this (at least!) every time we use the hashtag “#NoFilter” on social media; as of today it’s been used 64,367,795 times (search for it on Instagram). This count doesn’t include all of the hashtag’s mutations (“#nofilterneeded”, “#nofilternecessary”, etc.). I pray the piece encourages you to enjoy more the truths of , of : “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” My lyrics are below:
So I was on social media one day.
So shallow it seemed but I must say,
I was shocked, flummoxed, intrigued!
By what was once a newfound application spreading like a disease.
Staring at it, I asked, “when people started snapping pictures like these?”
Got me sounding like a brat on Christmas Eve:
“I have to have it! I have to have it!”
So I opened the App Store, hit download, and got the app added.
Opened the app, and now I’m at it like an addict — not on the candy rock gram — but on the Instagram.
Looking at grand photos of:
Land, mountains, skylines, horizons and trees.
Loved ones, fun runs, oceans, beasts, buildings, canyons and families.
I can’t handle these beautiful creations.
In these beautiful pictures.
They got me recalling the Roman scripture that says God’s eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made.
Cameras capture things that have been made.
Fashioned, designed, ordained, formed and shaped.
I love the hashtag that expresses what I’m trying to say.
It implicitly whispers credit to the one who spoke into nothing the foundations of the earth.
Yes, that hashtag reads: #nofilter.
No filter lets your viewers know that though you’ve captured something,
Its beauty is out of your control — let it be. No Beatles, but you see,
Our phones may be smart but we’re not dumb.
We instinctively know when we take a photo worth 1,000 words,
It’s silly to dress it in one, artificial filter.
Like a woman without makeup whose beauty speaks for itself,
Is God’s creation in a picture when filters are left on the shelf.
Yes, it’s clear that nothing is more beautiful than when it’s clear.
So hear the good news about whom the heavens ring — the one whom every created thing is meant to praise and extol: Soli Deo Gloria – Jesus.
Yeah, no cryptic filter let me give it to you straight:
Jesus took that cross – he hung on that tree,
For sinners like you and me, for the Father’s good purposes, and for the Father’s glory,
He chose before the foundations of the earth those who would turn from their sins and believe
that three days later Jesus got up from the grave to save those who would — by faith — accept his righteousness.
‘Cause we ain’t got none of our own. But we’re no longer alone.
No, repentant sinners who laid dead in their sin, now corporately stand in Him,
With the legal declaration of innocence, in a sense – now — free,
From shame, condemnation, self-exalting lustful idolatry –
So that we may finally see and praise for eternity along with the choir of creation:
Jesus, the King of Kings sitting magnificent in the highest station.
Yeah, I was on social media one day.
And it reminded me of God.
1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (ESV)
19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)