(Originally published 8/13)
This is going to be the absolute greatest post I’ve ever made! Did I get your attention? Do you believe me? Probably not. You might even be thinking that was an egotistical boast. It would have been if I were serious, but I wasn’t. I was exaggerating, something I’m prone to do.
A lot of us are. By this I don’t mean that we all go fishing and bring home stories of wale hunts. What I mean is we use strong language to get our points across. If someone asks us how we’re doing we reply that we’re ‘great.’ Someone shows us their new car and we tell them it’s ‘awesome.’ We use words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ ‘all’ the time. It’s so ingrained in our social language that we don’t even notice we’re doing it.
This isn’t really a problem because most of us only use this type of language either in person where whoever we’re speaking with can see our facial expressions and thus determine our true meaning, or with people who know us well enough to tell when we are exaggerating. So we continue to use big words for regular things and it doesn’t cause many misunderstandings.
There is, however, a danger that comes with all this strong language; big words are becoming common, overused, and unbelievable. We are using all our strong language for everyday little things and we are weakening them. So when we go to church and sing ‘How Great is our God’ it’s not coming through to us in the same way. Sure, God is great, but so was our meeting with the boss last week. God is awesome, as was Monday night’s game. God is perfect, just like our delicious burger. See the problem? It’s harder to get across big things when we’ve trivialized the words.
Even worse, now the words don’t mean as much when we read them in the promises of God. Look at 2 Peter 1:3:
‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.’
Look at the use of the word ‘everything’ there. That’s huge! We have everything we need for a godly life. But we also have everything we need to make lasagna so we don’t get as excited by the word as we should. Look almost anywhere in Psalms and you’ll read of God’s greatness. Ps. 96:4 says;
‘For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised.’
We read that and then spill our coffee and exclaim, ‘Great! That’s just great!’ A big one is the word love. The Greek had four different words for love but we have just the one so we love God but we also love that new T.V. show. Therefore, verses like John 15: 9, in which Jesus says,
“As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you,”
doesn’t hit home as hard as it’s intended to.
Finding new words is fun and there are a lot out there that few people know exist. But there aren’t enough to replace all the words in the Bible and I don’t think people are going to rush out and invent a bunch of new words so we can rewrite the Bible with more flamboyant language. Neither can we expect our culture to abandon their wordy ways and use words like ‘great’ and ‘awesome’ and ‘perfect’ only when pertaining to God. We have one word for love and it will probably continue to be used to name favorite sport teams.
We need to rewire our brains to realize what these words mean and remember to keep things in context. When we read through the Bible, we need to stop on those common, big words that we usually take for granted and really think about them. If you can, google the verse you’re reading and try to find the original Greek words and their meanings, especially for love verses. There is a lot of strong language in the Bible and God makes a lot of ‘big word’ promises. Read slowly so you don’t miss them. And when you do find them, take a moment to really think on them and enjoy the powerful language and love of God.