DEBATE OR DISCUSSION?
While in college, there were two groups of people I would have deep discussion with on campus
- Those that didn’t want to hear about Jesus regardless of what angle I gave them.
- Those that sincerely were open to hear and understand…but had questions.
WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?
The 2nd group of people is who I frame this post for.
Since my teens I have enjoyed having conversations about Jesus. Especially with others that had questions about his life, things he said and what happened to him after his death. From family, to friends in high school to strangers on the street.
What I found was that language barriers were often the reason for misunderstanding.
What I mean is that, as a follower of Jesus, there is a language that we pick up. We pick up Theological terms and phrases that many times are foreign to anyone outside of Christianity. And if the Bible version was from the 1600’s…it can be really easy to sound like Shakespeare with “thees”, “thous” and “shalt nots”.
Sometimes I used theological or old english language when talking to people that weren’t followers of Jesus. And many times it was confusing and made listeners feel like outsiders.
There was a time when I spoke to someone about “Salvation”. Now to someone who grew up in church, you heard about this in Sunday school classes, mid-week services, youth group and at camps. But to someone who didn’t grow up this way, it could mean many different things.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT HOW I SPEAK?
If a follower of Jesus’ goal is to invite others to experience the freedom they have in Jesus…should language be considered…if it is counterproductive to that invitation?
Looking at the culture during the time of Jesus, the Aramaic language was considered the language of common folks. Jesus spoke a common language that the richest or poorest people could understand. This was then translated into Greek and eventually into English.
He didn’t want any barriers to people hearing and being changed by the Truth.
Now fast forward a couple thousand years where a modern form of English is what Americans speak.
If Jesus’ intention was to use a language that most people understood in His time, shouldn’t those that want to communicate His truth follow the same pattern?
It’s something to consider. Showing how many theological words I know isn’t helping someone that doesn’t understand get closer to understanding Jesus. For some this is a way to be arrogant and make themselves feel better than someone else.
For others that are Jesus followers, you may not even pay attention that you’re doing it because it was the way you learned about Jesus.
So if Jesus and His truth has something to offer people in making their life and their communities better, I challenge followers of Jesus to think through the filter of someone that may not know about Jesus. Be open and down to earth. This is just another way that we put other people ahead of ourselves. I believe that in doing this you will gain more opportunities to learn from others and grow as a follower of Jesus.
Let’s hear your thoughts…