Say What?

Read: Proverbs 11

How many times have you felt like someone was speaking over your head? If a computer tech comes to your business or home do they speak in a language that leaves you thinking, “what did he/she just say?” If a farmer speaks in terms of GMO’s and Extensification do you know what that means? If ESPN speaks of OBP or ERA do you know what that stands for? The truth is… we usually know what is familiar to us and can understand it much better than things that are foreign to us.

This past week on Crosswalk.com John McKinley wrote about the need for Christians to think about this when speaking of their faith to other people. Some words are impossible to get around because they hold such theological importance, but when we speak of salvation and righteousness (for example) we may need to explain that to some people in simple terms.

Mr. McKinley shared some of these types of words and offered these suggestions on how to explain them. I list them here with his suggestions…..

Exalt – Instead of using “exalt” in our songs just because the Bible translations use it, we may do better to say “lift up” or “honor” because these are commonly understandable terms for the same idea “exalt” functions today.

Bless – We may need to use rich phrases instead of the shorthand of one word: “I want to please God,” “God has done so much good for me,” “God has filled up my satisfaction,” “I desire the best for her,” “May God care for you today.”

Glory or Glorify – This term is all over the Bible, our songs, our conversation. The OT term has the idea of “to be heavy,” as in the weightiness of God’s love and demonstration of his power. The NT term has ideas of “shining light, splendor, honor, praise, to show the truth.”

Behold – I don’t think I’ve ever said this word except when reading aloud the biblical text. I think it means “Look!” or “Here” in most cases. Why don’t we just say that, or “pay attention!” “Look at this!”

Sin – Some Christians are still uncomfortable with the term, so they talk of their “sins” as “mistakes” or they say, “I messed up.” When I thought about everyday language that fit what the Bible actually means by “sin” I settled on “failure” and “crime.” Both of these alternative terms make sense to non-Christians and Christians alike.

He share a few others as well. Perhaps you can think of others? The main idea here is to communicate your faith in a way that does not leave the hearer asking, “say what?” The book of Proverbs has so many wise sayings that seem simple and down to earth. Chapter 11 is one of those. Let’s try to share our faith in ways (and words) that will make sense to those who need to hear it. The Good News of the Gospel is not difficult. It should be easy to hear and receive.

Make it personal: Try to catch yourself using terms from the Bible and ask how easy it would be to explain that to someone in layman’s terms. By doing this we can prepare ourselves to share the gospel in a way that the world can easily understand Jesus and what he has done for them. One of the Bible translations that tries to do this is the Contemporary English Version, maybe that can be a resource as you simplify your message.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church