Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Speak up, I can't hear you! (xpost)

Also posted at http://1extraordinarylifetime.blogspot.com/

“Preach the Gospel to every nation and if necessary, use words.”  This has become a very commonly-heard quote in the Christian world today. It was a wise thing for St Francis of Assisi to say, but I wonder if he ever realized how detrimental it would become to Christianity. Rather than being a call to live out what you believe, it has become a sort of scapegoat for complacency. People take it as a reason to be silent about their faith. They say “oh, I’ll just preach by the way I live and people will come to know God.” But is that true? Where is that found in the Bible? I highly doubt you would ever see Jesus take on that sort of attitude. Or could you imagine Peter saying that?  Oh how quickly the fire of the gospel would have gone out, had the early church leaders taken on that sort of attitude.
As I posted earlier, words are extremely important in communication. It would be very true to say that actions and body language are extremely important in communication as well¾the saying “actions speak louder than words” is very true. HOWEVER, that does not negate the power and importance of words. There are some people in the world who, from the outside, may appear to be very happy, wise, generous, loving, or a thousand other virtues… What’s to distinguish them from those who live such lives genuinely through Christ? Their words do! Those who are living a virtuous life because they are allowing CHRIST to live through them are going to be telling people the real reason for their joy etc.  Human eyes are all-too-easily deceived. How are they to see the real Christ in you if they don’t know what the real Christ looks like? It is up to you to tell them!
How could anyone be silent after receiving so great a gift as salvation? As Jesus said, that’s like lightning a candle and putting it under a basket. Or nowadays he might say that’s like turning on your lamp and then putting it into a box where nobody can see it. What good is it to anybody? If we have a light fixture, we’re going to put it out where it sheds light for everybody so they can see where they’re going! In practical application that means you go out and teach people the truth¾you show them that on their own they are going to hell. You don’t be rude or condemning about it, you merely shine the light of truth on the facts that are present. 
You know why more people don’t do that? It is out of fear. Nobody likes to be disliked and when you present truth, it hurts like a bright light being turned on after pitch darkness and unfortunately a lot of times that makes people dislike you. But why should fear of being disliked keep you from saving lives? Why should that fear steal the joy that a life in Christ gives you? Unfortunately it is true that some people will hate you. In fact, no matter what you do some people will hate you. Hello, Jesus promised people would hate you! So why should that stop you from doing what He told you to do? Let us not forget it is also true that some people will love you for taking the time to love them and show them the error of their ways and help them to be healed and turned toward the Son.
Don’t let complacency or fear get in the way of the furtherance of the Kingdom. Yes, do go and preach the gospel to every nation and use words when necessary. But never forget, words ARE necessary. Always.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just Words?

Going through school growing up, the particular curriculum we used often went over the importance of words for communication (in case you ever thought to whine over your English assignments :P ). To me it made perfect sense. I mean, have you ever made the rash vow as a child "I'm not going to talk to you for the rest of the day!" And then have you tried to carry it out? It's not easy, grunting [in syllables of the words we want to say, no less] and gesturing like some sort of ape, trying to get our message across. Words are rather important to our everyday life!
Yet in spite of the importance of words, I think they have been grossly devalued in our society. Our vocabulary as a whole has declined and seems to be continuing to do so. To the point where when I talk to the average 8th grader I find myself having to define half the words I use which to me seem like everyday-usage words. (thank you homeschooling LOL)  And I wasn't even word-nerdy enough to read the whole dictionary! (well maybe I was but I never got around to finishing it. :P)
I was pondering this issue this morning, trying to figure it out. I was thinking about a comedian I heard who was making a routine out of substituting the word "rose" for "fart". He was saying that it was silly when people got embarrassed over the latter word. "It's just a word!" he crowed. "Just a word"? What does that mean? Yeah, it is a word, but words happen to have this little thing called a meaning that make it more than just a random object. With words we can paint a picture or give instructions... or write blogs to share our opinions and insights. But even more than that, with words we can build up or tear down; we can kill or we can heal. Even with the absence of words we can have a great effect upon other peoples' lives.
Here's an illustration that forever engraved the power of words on my mind. My pastor called a random person from the audience up on the stage to help illustrate the point. He had the man put his arms straight out from his sides. Pastor then pushed down lightly on his arms to show the amount of pressure he was using--it was not enough to overpower the man's outstretched arms. He had the man put his arms down, then said, "repeat these six things after me," at which point he said six negative phrases in the first-person (i.e. I'm a loser, I'll never amount to much, I hate my job, etc). The man put his arms back out as before, and with no trouble the pastor was able to push them down  using the same amount of pressure as previously. Then he said "repeat these six things after me," and said six positive phrases in the first person (i.e. I'm handsome, I'm a great husband/father, I love my job, etc) then had him put his arms back out. He again applied the same amount of pressure and the man was able to hold his arms up again.
Skeptical? Try it on some unsuspecting victim. He tried this on my brother when he came to the college my brother was attending. He said it was absolutely amazing, he could NOT hold his arms up after saying those negative things.
Think they're just words? Think again. Why do you think they have the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" ? Why do you think the Bible warns us so many times to be careful what we say? Even when you're just joking around, be careful what you say! (guilty :oops:) It doesn't matter if you really believe what you're saying, the words themselves are that powerful. They can even eventually change how you really believe. Sometimes even making a simple, small compliment will brighten someone's entire day. Don't just take my word for it, try it!
So next time you hear someone say words aren't important, give them a reality check! Erase that rhyme about sticks and stones from your arsenal. Remember to keep your words uplifting and positive. Use them for healing rather than hate. You'd be amazed at what a difference it will make! You might even save a life. :)
~ L.E. Neighbour