On November 24, 2004, the Ukrainian state-run television station delivered a live news broadcast announcing the winner of the presidential elections. In a small corner of the screen, sign language interpreter, Natalie Dmytruk, was supposed to be passing on the message to deaf viewers across the nation.
Instead of following the official announcements, Dmytruk, knowing the election results were fraudulent, bravely signed the following: “Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies.”
Her act of defiance was one of the catalysts triggering a peaceful revolution that led to an overturning of the original results. “Without telling anyone, I just went in and did what my conscience told me to do”, Dmytruk would later explain.
US Christian author, Philip Yancey, provides an insightful perspective on this public act of truth-telling, describing it as symbolic of what all Christians should be striving toward in our world today.
Western society, he states, has embraced the lies of the big screen that are shoved in our faces every day via media outlets – that wealth, prestige, power,
looks and the pursuit of self-satisfaction are the keys to happiness. Christians, he believes, are called to be the small presence in the corner of this screen committed to revealing the true message of God.
Yancey is right; however, if we desire to be truly effective ambassadors of truth, we must firstly become consciously aware of the screens we project within our own minds. I received an epiphany recently of my own inadequacy in this area.
Following a particularly brutal event I had became inadvertently involved in, I found myself overcome with a sense of fear.
The big screen in my mind started to play graphic scenarios relating to my well-being or otherwise – and I began to believe the thoughts that were, in reality, merely a creation of my own imagination.
I chose to feed the lies by continually replaying them, creating an inner turmoil that permeated all aspects of my life.
At first I chose to ignore the small voice in the corner of the screen – the Holy Spirit – that was telling me not to be afraid because God was my refuge and protector and I needed to trust in Him.
Eventually I realised the futility of my self-inflicted storm and chose to surrender the situation to a power far more competent than me.
Not long after the situation was peacefully resolved, but what did remain, fortunately, was an awareness of my lack of faith and an understanding of how to overcome it.
In the past, I had always written off St Paul’s request to “pray without ceasing” as a call to saints such as him and those chosen for lives of consecration.
It couldn’t possibly be for others living in the 21st century who had such busy lives and carried so many responsibilities.
What I realise now, however, is the need to take Paul’s wisdom in context with all his teachings.
He also told us to “take every thought captive in Christ Jesus” and to “renew the spirit of your mind”.
He was convinced that Christians could only live out the fullness of life when they allowed their minds to be transformed to the mind of Christ.
Paul was well aware of the mental battlefield experienced by those to whom he was writing.
He knew people were combatting constant self-talk and visualisations, much of which was not originating from God, and was convinced the only way for people to counter any lies was to replace them with the truth God had revealed to him.
In the context of the mental screen that Yancey describes, it simply boils down to conscious choice.
Do we allow our minds – and subsequently our lives – to be moulded by the incessant dialogue generated by the world around us, the brokenness within us or spiritual influences not from God – or do we choose to transform our minds with the truth revealed to us through Christ?
It is a revolution that each of us must participate in. We need to ask ourselves, with each thought, what screen we are choosing to engage in our minds.
If we are allowing influences other than God to dictate our thinking then the screen playing the lies of this world will become larger and will dwarf the voice that cries out His truth.
If, on the other hand, we choose to equip ourselves with the Word of God and allow this to play and replay in our minds, then the screen unveiling God’s plan for our lives will become more obvious and the lies will diminish into the darkness from which they came.