“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine . . . and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 This week’s assault on Facebook is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, with assorted memes and photos (one is a shot of the verse, in situ, […]
Considering that we follow, serve, worship, and emulate the most radical individual to have ever walked on this planet — Jesus — Christians can be really boring.
Oh, I ‘m not talking about people who are suffering, and suffering hard, for their belief in Christ. I’m talking about people whose ability to communicate, and think, is severely compromised by non-words that look Biblical, sound important, and mean nothing:
Expressing ourselves with authenticity
Developing an intentional existence
Motivating one another in a purpose-driven fashion
Paying attention to proper group dynamics
Pursuing a missional lifestyle
Spend 10 minutes in a pew, or interlocking chair, on a Sunday and it’s highly likely you’ll catch one of these terms tossed into your lap. And because none of us likes to look stupid, we nod sagely and say,
“Mmm, yes. Christ calls us to a purpose-driven, intentional lifestyle of healthy authenticity and a missional outlook.”
What did you just agree to?
Words Are Supposed to Mean Something
We all like to invent words, and indeed, the English language is famous for its new creations, many of which are aberrations of existing words, think “participator” (participant), “administrate” (administer), or “irregardless” (regardless).
Our new creations, or maltreatment of existing words, sound so much more deliberative, purposeful, and informational than the old, but in reality, they are weak, indecisive, and inconclusive because they don’t really say anything, they just sound like they do.
And when we use them, we may think we sound intelligent, but we don’t — we just sound as if we were pretending to be so.
Isn’t the purpose of communication to . . . communicate? And isn’t it interesting that Christ so often told easy-to-understand stories that caused people to think? Luke 4: 32 tells us that the people listening to Jesus,
“. . . were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.” Mark 1: 22 says that,
“. . . he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.”
It’s true that “intentional” is not an Aramaic or Hebrew word, but I’m guessing that the teachers of the law used its equivalent.
More Syllables — More Meaning?
I’ll be the first to admit that Christ’s words are not always easy to understand, but not because of the words themselves. Take John 14: 14 for example:
“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Ninety-three percent of that sentence consists of words of one syllable; the only multi-syllabic offering, “anything,” is comfortingly familiar. And yet it’s a sentence we can spend our life reflecting upon, trying out, experimenting with, researching with other passages in the Bible because ALL of us have experienced asking God for something, in His name, and not getting it. What gives?
The temptation, in trying to understand concepts and sentences like this that have flummoxed us from the moment Christ uttered them, is to dress them up with pseudo-intellectualism:
“Christ’s intention is that we pursue an authentic lifestyle of missional purpose — this is what He means by ‘in my name,'”
as opposed to blurting out,
“Why doesn’t this work? Why does it seem to say something so simple, and yet be something so difficult to achieve? What am I missing here?”
Simple versus Simplistic; Complex versus Convoluted
God, Christ, Jesus, and Christianity are simple, yet complex. We humans have a tendency to make them simplistic, yet convoluted. Our buzz words, which change with the generations, confuse those who hear them, not the least of whom are people who are not familiar with church-speak, and hesitate to ask (because they fear they’ll look stupid), “What do you mean by a community of unification in our spiritual calling and esoteric giftings?”
“Just live intentionally,” they’re told. “and in a missional fashion.”
Oh, okay. That makes it clear.
As “fools for Christ,” (1 Corinthians 4: 10), we get tired of being called dumb by those who do not follow Him, and we seek solace by trying to sound scholarly in a fashion accepted by the world: the less we understand what someone says, the more cerebral he must be, we reason.
But this is how human think: we worship convolution as a sign of sophistry and sapience. Big words are better, confusion is a sign of understanding.
But that’s not how God thinks. He’s got this central message — I love you — of three simple, monosyllabic words that require every aspect of our heart, soul and mind to fully comprehend.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I seek to distinguish God’s truth from man’s teachings — it’s fairly difficult, isn’t it? But we keep trying, and it’s part of our walk as Christians — all of us, “ordinary” or not (and that’s what we all are, really) can rest in the arms of our mighty, powerful, gracious, loving, and really intelligent God, and learn from what He teaches us.
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