Well, the Church I grew up in had a huge picture of Christ in the garden, front and center. The Church I was in most recently before coming to the Orthodox Church had a cross in the front with a crown of thorns and a robe hanging on it. We had many images of Christ in our home used educationally, decoratively and to a lesser degree inspirationally. I own a copy of the Passion of the Christ, and I did and do treat Bibles reverentially, ie don't lay it on the floor. But yes, there was a difference between all that and the veneration we do now, and that difference was what we had to overcome on the way to being Orthodox.
Edit: Oh yeah, and we definitely looked up to martyrs ancient and modern like Jim Elliot who died, with 5 others in the Amazon bringing Christianity to the natives there.