Church Message

When ‘3D’ Really Isn’t
By Ronald Gallagher

Church message imageChurch page directory 6oct16First-time experiences stick in your mind, don’t they? When I was 14, I had a first-time experience at the movies that didn’t involve a girl or my lips touching anything I didn’t subsequently swallow. I had been appropriately initiated by that time into the rapidly expanding world of cinematic expression, having sampled the entire scope of culturally relevant video genre for a young man of 14—westerns, war movies, and horror flicks. But something different was coming.

My buddies and I were battle-hardened veterans of the second most challenging form of movie viewing for guys like us—horror movies. First place belonged, of course, to the dreaded ‘romance’ category, which for 14-year-old guys was merely a different variety of horror movie. Regardless, at this point in our viewing careers, our adrenaline systems had survived direct frontal assaults from the likes of ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ and ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman’ and ‘Frankenstein Meets Igor’s Mother-in-Law’ (okay, okay, I may be a little off on the title here, but you get the idea). But Hollywood horror was about to move to a whole new level.

That night, the darkened theater would be transformed into the ‘House on Haunted Hill’. Our hard-earned horror movie bravado never wavered as we strutted up to the window and bought our tickets. When we got to the entrance, a girl tore off our ticket from the stub and said mechanically, "Thanks— now get your glasses out of that box over there.”

"Glasses? Wait a minute. We didn’t have to don paper glasses and look at ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman’ through red and green cellophane.” But ‘House on Haunted Hill’ wasn’t just ordinary horror— this was horror in 3D! The creatures lurking inside that creepy old house were going to break free from the silver screen and burst out right into the audience—probably drool all over us, too. 3D was going to be some serious stuff.

Well… I’m not 14 anymore (thank God), but the phenomenon of 3D projection is still intriguing. We live and move in a three-dimensional world, but most of us tend to be too busy to ever stop to think about the implications of it. A comment made by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians admonishes us to discard that tendency for a few minutes. In his pleading with God on behalf of his beloved readers, Paul describes the relationship with God through Jesus Christ in three-dimensional terms. His passionate desire for them was that they would experience a personal level of contact with Jesus that transcends the flat, lifeless world of religious rituals, empty clichés, and transient emotional expressions.

Paul knew all too well that when the deeper underlying realities of Jesus’ life and ministry are replaced with superficial religious trappings, the power of God’s transcendent truth can be lost. In light of that, Paul prayed that they would come to know "…the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” (Eph. 3:18), Three-dimensional love? Imagine that. This love that Paul advocated, this life that Jesus demonstrated, was something that exceeded the normal planes of human measurement. This was life with real spiritual depth—another dimension altogether.

What we call ‘3D’ in the movies ought to be called ‘3DD’—Three Dimensional ‘Deception’— because our 3D is really just 2D in disguise, We’ve learned to make images look like they have depth, but the reality is that the screen only allows two dimensions, The condition Paul feared was that the church would become something like our modern video screens—a mechanism onto which we project three-dimensional ideas, but leave them trapped within the rigid, lifeless boundaries of a two-dimensional reality. That’s what happens when our religious rituals are conducted without the Spirit of the living God involved. When ‘praise and worship’ services are reduced to ecclesiastical entertainment and emotional stimulation, it’s 3DD.

Our comfort with two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional realities sets us up for trouble in the spiritual realm. If we allow the ‘Christianity’ we project to be little more than another ‘3D’ illusion on a ‘2D’ life, the implications could be tragic. Jesus deals with life as it really is, including the hard realities that lurk in every dimension. In twodimensional worlds you can only touch the image, not the people, and none of it is real. He calls us to abandon our two-dimensional religious deceptions, and follow Him into a world that is eternally three-dimensional.

In addition to being an active writer, speaker, teacher, and blogger, Ron Gallagher serves in a variety of roles as a ministry consultant for local churches. His Biblical insights are coupled with down-to-earth humor, satire, and relevant stories, all aimed at promoting "right side up thinking in an upside down world.” Ron strives to apply God’s truth in a way that stimulates the mind, encourages the heart, and challenges the cultural norm.  Check out his blog, "Gallagher’s Pen” at


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