For a very long time now, I’ve been asking myself what we, as Christians actually believe. We use terms like “light”, “heart” and “salvation” very freely, but do we understand what we’re saying? If I don’t know what people mean by these words, how on earth is a world that doesn’t know Jesus supposed to?This has been bothering me for a while and after watching a video titled “Christian Klingdom” about the same subject on The Resurgence, I’ve decided to speak up. It’s not that I don’t understand the bible, I would just like to know if people really understand and mean what they’re expressing through “bible language”.
We recently had a girl from Germany at our home group who didn’t come from a Christian household and so many of the terms, that most of us grew up with, were totally new to her. After our evenings together, I would often ask her whether she could follow the conversation. Very often she’d say that, although she enjoyed hearing everyone’s thoughts, she did have a hard time understanding exactly what we were saying. And I completely understood why she would say that.
Let me give an example. Let’s take the idea of being light. To someone who hears that for the first time, it can sound overly spiritual, almost new-agy. What on earth does it mean to be light? We often read aloud that Jesus wants us to be light and we might even express a desire to do just that. But what are we thinking when we say that? Do we even want to be confronted with that type of reality or is it just a nice idea?
I think there is a very real danger of Christians becoming totally detached from the world by just using language we don’t understand. We can sit in church gatherings, Sunday after Sunday, listening to preaching, or even talking about faith in bible studies and totally miss the real implications of what God is trying to say to us at a very personal level. It can become all about the group we belong to and the lingo we share within that group, which to me sounds very much like the Pharisees that Jesus confronted.
Jesus spoke to people in their context. He said, “The kingdom of God is like…” and used images that resonated with his audience at that given moment. To farmers he spoke about seeds, crops and sheep. To fishermen he spoke about fish. To the woman at the well he spoke about water.
We need to think a little bit more before we speak and actually make an effort to speak a language that church and non-church goers can understand. I know that many church communities have started doing this and hopefully it will catch on quickly. If we care enough to be aware, I think we’ll find images all around us that portray God’s love and character very well and, who knows, people might actually want to listen.