Filters in photography are sheets of glass or resin which are attached to the lens of the camera. They can be very useful for capturing scenery in extremely difficult lighting conditions; they can enhance colours and reduce reflections, and they can simply protect lenses. Filters are widely used in photography and cinematography. Some photographers only use filters in rare situations, while others rely on filters for their everyday work. Nowadays, lens filters are often used to modify the light before it enters the lens. You may see on some landscape photographs the boast that ‘no filters were used’, meaning that the photograph captures the scene exactly as it was! As I understand it, filters alter what we see. They change what we see; they manipulate what we see.
We live in a filtered world, whether we are aware of this or not. We are born sinful; our perspective, our eyesight, is skewed from Day 1. Sin has spoiled God’s original creation, and we live in a world that is somehow both indifferent to and hostile to God. The natural state of the world is alienated from God. Paul describes the ‘natural state’ in Ephesians 2: ‘You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.’ (Eph 2:1-3, The Message) The world filters what we see, shapes our thoughts and attitudes so that we find it hard at times to believe God over and above what we have absorbed subconsciously from birth. The world’s message that we are all-important, that the world revolves around us, that this life is all there is and that we can live to please ourselves is directly at odds with what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us that we were created in God’s image, that life is about God’s pleasure and will, not ours (Eph 1:5) and that it’s Christ who must have the supremacy, not us. (Col 1:18) The Bible tells us that God’s plan for our lives is for us ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son’ (Rom 8:29), and that trials are God’s way of refining our faith and making us fit for heaven. (1 Pet 1:6-7) It’s only as we remove the world’s filter from our eyes, from our worldview, and allow God’s promises to be the only filter we use that we can live according to God’s ways. Eph 1:11 in the Message version says, ‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.’ If we do not have Christ as our filter, if we do not allow the Bible to shape and transform our thinking, then our lives will not be lived according to God’s ways. Paul told the Romans, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (Rom 12:2) For us to know God’s will and live blessed lives, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, which happens as we are exposed to God’s word and allow it to have the final say in how we live. We have to consciously let God’s truth seep into our lives and change who we are. It’s a little bit like the marinade which softens the meat so that our meal is tastier and more tender as we eat it. God’s truth, revealed in the Bible, soaks into us and transforms us from the inside out so that we are no longer conformed to the pattern of this world but are conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. When we live according to the promises of God, we are living in the way God intended for us; we are living as children of God who are led by His Spirit.