Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Secret Language of a Christian

Avast me Hearties!
Shiver me timbers! ‘Tis a foul storm approaching that be sending ye to Davy Jones Locker! Arrgghh! Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. When I was a young lad my career goal was to become a pirate and while things didn’t work out like I’d planned, it’s probably for the best since it would be difficult for me to type this with a troublesome hook in place of my right hand. But I still love watching the old Errol Flynn pirate movies, I live my boyhood dreams on the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland and every September 19th I can thoroughly annoy my loved ones by talking like a pirate. Aye, me Beauty, whars me grog? Yo Ho Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me..

What does all this have to do with our Christian faith? Pirate jargon uses antiquated and obscure words with unclear meanings that make people laugh. Christian jargon uses antiquated and obscure words with unclear meanings that make people confused.

Christian Jargon:
Kingdom, Ransom, Born Again, Confess, Sanctification, Lamb of God, Gospel, Trinity, Tribulation, Theology, Spirit, Redeem, Lord’s Supper, Salvation, Reconciliation, Ministry, Minister (as a verb: “to minister to someone”).
The Lord is working on my heart.
Washed in the blood of Jesus.
 She has a fire burning in her heart. 
Lost sheep straying from the fold.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit. 
Pray for a hedge of protection.
I’d like to share a burden on my heart with you.

While us believers don’t yet have a secret handshake, the secret language that we use to communicate with each other can be just as exclusive and alienating to those who may be outside the clubhouse doors and trying to get in. If you’ve  been with other people who unintentionally excluded you from their conversation by speaking in a language you didn’t understand, you know what that feels like. Our “Christianese” can exclude the very people we are trying to reach. If I invite someone to “ask Jesus into your heart,” she may have no idea what I’m talking about. If I tell her that “Jesus was the propitiation for her sins,” she’ll need a dictionary to understand me. If I tell her that “Jesus made atonement for her so that she’ll be justified, redeemed and sanctified,” her eyes will glaze over. But what if I tell her that “Humans have been separated from God by our rebellious nature and Jesus, through His sacrificial death upon the cross, paid the penalty for our sins. When we accept and believe in Jesus, than our relationship is restored with God and we will have eternal life.” 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with our using the beloved words and phrases that describe our  beliefs and how we live out our faith. It’s all biblical and it’s the language that we use to effectively communicate with each other. But when we’re speaking to a non-Christian, or a new believer unfamiliar with Christian jargon, we should remember to speak their language, not ours. When communicating the “Good News,” always try to think about what you are saying from the perspective of the person to whom you are speaking. Aye! When ye parley with yer Matey, speak smartly that they savvy or ye’ll be walking the plank!  Arrrr..!  
I mean, AMEN?