Worn Out Phrases

Anyone else have a problem talking with people about Jesus? Communicating the message is part of our commission as disciples, but part of the problem with the Gospel is that we are forced to use words to describe it. Sometimes we forget that phrases have a shelf life. Just think of the last license plate holder you saw. I’m sure someone thought it was brilliant at one time, but eventually phrases will become trite. The same goes for the cute words we use to describe the Gospel. Once we try and package the Gospel to make it “deliverable,” we become Ministers of the Great Cliche.

It’s important to remember that it is not words or phrases we are trying to convey, but rather, ideas. If we can get someone to understand the “idea” of fallen man and the “idea” of a Savior, it will be absorbed by the listener as much more than words. Obviously, we must use words to describe ideas, but my point is that sometimes we become focused on the semantics. Our words become shallow and meaningless. The concept or essence of grace can easily become dull if we are simply trying to define grace. We must impart grace. And therein lies the problem. Such a conveyance of grace requires lives that understand the idea of grace, and that grace be given. If you have been saved from anything, you understand the idea. The idea of grace is glorious.

The idea of the Gospel is not just a mathematical formula for achieving salvation, or a description of the process. The idea of the Gospel is everything salvation implies. You can describe a rainbow to someone, but eventually, for the person to understand both the definition and essence of a rainbow, they must see a rainbow for themselves. We will always be limited by language. Trying to express infinite ideas through finite language is a losing battle. Which is why writers like C.S. Lewis have made such an impact on the human soul. They dig deep and find new ways of expressing old truths.

Maybe that’s why Jesus spoke in parables. He didn’t say, “The kingdom of God IS x, y and z.” Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is LIKE…” It’s not only about what the parable directly expresses, but also what it implies. Ultimately, it’s not our job to talk people into the Gospel. Remember Hosea 2:14. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her.” It is God who does the calling. My point is simply that we are called to live out, express, impart and speak the idea of salvation.

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