Monday, 4 March 2013

Words words words

Here's a list of some words that christians especially, consider veeery important:

  • Sin
  • Repent
  • Saved
  • Justified
  • Righteous
  • Hell
  • Heaven
  • Law

(and there's plenty more where they come from)

They are so important that there's been a lot of arguments about them for a long time, and even more so lately. Everyone seems to know exactly what the words mean, and many can prove it by Greek/Hebrew and exegesis. But there is one incredibly important thing that we all keep overlooking:

These "christian" words are loaded - like a gun - ready to aim and fire at the next person who obviously doesn't understand their true meaning. (Thought I'd just throw that in for current political comment).

But each word that is part of the christianese language, is loaded up with centuries of baggage, based on thousands of evolving doctrines, pushed by political powers, endless translations/interpretations, cultural bias etc. Then to make matters even more complicated we have to add our own personal baggage to each word: how do we personally interpret each word based on our upbringing (religious/cultural/family), our treatment by other christians and leadership, the sermons we have had preached to us, the way have been taught to think. All of the above factors (and more) are mixed together into this complex and personally unique interpretation of these words (part of what I refer to as our personal paradigm).

So what on earth does that mean?

When you hear the word "sin", what does that mean to you? What emotion flashes through you in that split second? What other words do you quickly associate with it? What string of thoughts does that initiate? Does it feel evil too you? Does the thought produce fear in you? Do you feel subtle guilt or shame straight away? Does it even concern you? This is a gut reaction, triggered by our paradigm, and colours our interactions in a way that we are usually totally unaware of - to the point that we not only don't understand why others don't "get it", but will actually get offended or even attack others because of it.

Are we prepared to even admit that there is a problem here?
Could it be that so much conflict could be avoided if we actually took the time to understand each others paradigms? To look for what is loading up each others thoughts and language to the point that it causes anger, hatred, and even wars?

Imagine if instead of being so keen to slam our favourite doctrine or philosophy down someone's throat, we could present it in a way that allowed others to explore with dignity and safety. That we would listen to their hearts and try to understand their paradigms.

This however, takes time and patience. Something in short supply these days! And forums like Facebook etc, really don't encourage respectful, patient interactions.

Words are never empty! Every word we speak comes loaded with our life history, our family, our culture, our education, our religion. Speak, by all means, but listen with all the passion and conviction that God has for us.