With eyes of wonder, believers in Christ grasp on to the words of grace, redemption, and justification. These words define the Christian faith.
The meaning behind these words appear obvious to the faithful but may have an entirely different connotation to an unbelieving world.
And this chasm of misunderstanding is growing wider.
It’s becoming more challenging to verbally express the hope believers have in Christ when they rely on meaningful Christian terminology to express their faith.
To proclaim Christ in today’s world, it may be helpful to bring a dictionary.
I was listening to a political podcast that opened my eyes to the vastly different understanding of words. A young progressive gave her definition of the word “socialism” and how that is contributing to the growing divide in American politics.
To an older generation, the term “socialism” is a threat. They remember the cold war. This word conjures up thoughts of communism, the loss of freedom, and the impetus behind the tearing down of the Berlin wall.
To a younger generation, the term “socialism” is an advancement of a cause. The word implies social justice to repair the cracks of a broken democracy. Upholding individual rights, garnering social equality, and correcting income disparity serve to champion their meaning and definition of the word.
The term “socialism” provokes fear for one half of our nation and a call to action for others.
Christian terminology can present the same problem.
When believers define their faith to others it is appropriate to utilize terms like grace, redeemed, and justified. However, if time is not invested to explain these terms with its richness and depth, many unbelievers will have difficulty grasping their meaning.
But that’s only the beginning.
When unbelievers hear words that are associated with an organized church rather than a new life in Christ, they can immediately balk.
Words can trigger harmful emotions associated with the church.
Judgementalism. Bad experiences. Political preferences.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4)
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
How can believers engage the world to communicate the Light in a way that they can understand?
How can believers begin a conversation to give a reason for the hope that they have in the Light?
Beginning a conversation means asking and listening before striving to be heard.
When believers use words expressed by those seeking the Truth, they are far more apt to communicate the Truth in ways an unbelieving world can understand.
Words that give a meaningful reason for the hope believers have in Christ come from a heart that readily expresses a redeemed life.
Spiritual conversations don’t have to be something to fear, nor a burdensome obligation, but a natural flow of a faith that is connected to the Vine of Christ.
With eyes and ears attentive to spreading his Word, divine opportunities orchestrated by God happen on a regular basis.
Lovingly defining a basic Christian term may be a great way to start a spiritual conversation.
We can pray:
O Lord, with a heart full of thanksgiving for what you have done, we make ourselves available to spread your message and unleash its power. Empower us through your Spirit to proclaim what we already know to be true. Open our eyes so that we may see and believe that the fields are ready to be sown with your gospel seeds. Open our hearts so that we may filled with your desire to bring as many people as possible to heaven. Thank you for the privilege of being your messengers. Amen.