2003-02-13 - Clear Speech
Rom 10:14-15 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" (NAS)
I had an interesting encounter with my 14-year old son this week. He needed help formatting some homework on the computer. It was a time line. He had years listed with specific events from those years listed and nicely spaced in six columns across the page. When he tried to print the document the data was all over the page rather than in the neat columns he had worked to create. I attempted to explain proportionally spaced fonts, and I think he got that. The I said, "Make a table and put the information from each year in its own cell." He looked at me like I had grown a third eyeball right in the middle of my head.
I had given him a perfectly valid solution to his problem. When I actually sat down and showed him what a table was and how to put the information into the cells everything was fine. But prior to that he had no more idea what I was saying than how to split atoms. What was crystal clear to me was Greek to him. I had failed to convey the message.
But we worked it out. He now has a new tool to use when formatting his work in a document. And while this is a good thing I couldn't help but wonder at a parallel. How many times do we try to tell someone about Jesus or something from the Bible and use a language or words that they have no idea how to interpret. I've seen the "what in the world did you mean by that" look from more than my son. Sometimes I believe God has a purpose for this moment of confusion. Other times I think I just frustrate the person who has actually stopped to listen to me.
Listen to yourself. This may sound a little odd but hear me out. How many words do we use as Christians regularly that non-believers have never or only rarely heard? When someone doesn't understand something, they are not the problem unless they are simply not listening. The idea of a "substatutionary death" is enough for the person to digest without having to fight the words used. "He died in our place", is easy to understand. Paul met people where they were in life. He spoke to governors, prison guards, sailors, philosophers, fellow travelers and possibly even to Cesar. He gladly spoke to their level and their needs. He is an excellent example of a communicator. It was always the same message of hope and love crafted skillfully for each one who heard it.
1 Cor 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23 And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (NAS)
Lord Jesus - Thank You for the example of Paul, and your example - simply calling to the hearts of men, "Follow Me." Help us to speak the message truly and carefully with out lives and our tongues. Amen.
Grace & Peace,