The conundrum of the modern church is not in fighting against the power of secular culture, but in the adoption of dominant scripts into the church.

Justin Kim

Pronounced “wizywig,” it was a novel concept in the 1980s. With computers becoming mainstream, developers employed a user-friendlier model in which what one saw on a clunky square monitor was what one got; hence the titular acronym for “What You See Is What You Get.” Living now in an era of custom-sized thin touchscreens, tablets, and other technical devices, we may think this idea to be simple and obvious. But in the primitive era of inputting into black MS-DOS prompts it was, and proved to be, revolutionary.

The spiritual life also follows similar rules of WYSIWYG. Just as simple and obvious, what you see is what you get. Beyond the mere visual, however, it is what we allow into our mind, heart, thinking, and inner self that determines who we are.

Theologian Walter Brueggemann explains more in his 19 theses about the Bible in the church.* Everyone lives by a script they may not be cognizant of. This script was written by different combinations of metanarratives, stories, and/or value systems. Whether Marxism, capitalism, political ideologies, culture, media, favorite author, or your family’s dinner table, they range from giving yourself a sense of purpose, security, and meaning to how to understand the world. They are therapeutic, in offering a solution to our pains and troubles; technological, in assuming that anything can be fixed by human ingenuity; and consumerist, in assuming acquiring more of this as better. The world is militant to maintain this system and its hope to deliver humanity.

As alluded to by the second angel of Revelation 14, these scripts have failed us. History is ripe with evidence of their malfunction. What is needed is to detach and disengage from them. An alternative is offered in the counterscript of Scripture. We enter this counterscript by baptism, where we renounce the former script and look to Christ to embody the ultimate source of therapy, to eclipse human ingenuity, and to put our consumerism to shame. What results is the richest and most complete sense of purpose and identity.

The conundrum of the modern church is not in fighting against the power of secular culture, but in the adoption of dominant scripts into the church. Every age has its fashionable script and presents its customized temptations to the church. Rather than baptism being an exit and entry point, we baptize these scripts as the counterscript because each age is offended by some attribute of Scripture. Our minds refuse to let go of our sense of human incompetence, assume that human ingenuity still has some merit, and are addicted to these habits of consumption.

As a result, there isn’t a difference. We compromise the therapy of the counterscript. This results in the same failure of issues in understanding self, our relationships, and our purpose in this world. Cloaked as Christ’s religion, but consisting of the world’s scripts, these offer no revolution nor transformation. Some even become indifferent to this inconsistency: Laodicea. The true counterscript has been manifested by the character, the charm, and the person of Jesus. He came to manifest genuine WYSIWYG. Though simple and obvious, undeniably what you see is what you get. The more we see and input Jesus Christ, His Word, His life, His love, His teachings, and His Spirit, the more we will see His values, His solution, His purpose, and His output in our daily lives. Simply said, the more of Jesus we see on the inside, the more of Jesus we see on the outside.


Justin Kim