Language is a wonderful gift and when used well it is a vehicle to communicate love, acceptance, grace, goodness and wholeness to heal and restore others. It can of course be used to tear down, divide, destroy and discourage. I’ve wondered lately whether the usage of Christian jargon in our language is really helpful or a hindrance to people who are unfamiliar with it. I’m particularly thinking of those souls that haven’t been raised in church and perhaps don’t know the Lord yet. How many times have we heard in a sermon or read on a newsletter words and phrases like “sanctified”, “washed in the blood of the Lamb”, “used by God”, “cleansed by His Word” and so on? Have you ever wondered how that sounds to someone who has never heard it before?
Let’s take “used by God” as an example. Have you thought about what it would be like for someone who has suffered abuse to hear that God wants to “use them”? Would it provoke deep anxiety or fear and cause a victim of abuse to run for the hills? Or how about “washed in the blood”? For the unfamiliar it may paint the picture of the worshipper being somehow bathed physically in blood as in some kind of satanic ritual!
Of course, how we understand those phrases is defined both by our knowledge and by our church culture. We know that to be “used by God” is to be aligned with His loving purposes for our lives and to connect with the God given gifts and talents He has given us. It is a joyful thing which brings deep satisfaction to the soul. We know that to be “washed in the blood of Christ” is a symbolic way of talking about the deep forgiveness the Father has for all His children and the lengths He went to to rescue us from the grip of sin and the devil who are the enemy of all that is good and right.
So what am I saying then? What can we take away from this? Namely that we should learn how to speak plainly, simply, and perhaps lay aside the jargon we have picked up, take for granted and if honest, sometimes hide behind! I truly don’t think that God cares so much about our ability to spout the right jargon, but on whether we love our neighbour and even love our enemy.