Do you know where the message of God’s incredible design, His joyous news of New Creation and a bout Jesus Christ has the most impact and contact with this human scene? It’s not with the church professionals/clergy. It’s not with outstanding Christian writers. Not even close. For instance, the Christian fellowship in which I share has several very gifted teachers, and is a well put-together community, … but it’s not with those pastor-teachers that the fellowship’s primary impact on our community takes place. It takes place, rather, in the ordinary lives of the ordinary men and women, in the ordinary routines of each day as their lives interact with the folk who make up their 24/7 routines—all kinds of people on the social scale. It is as those of us who are taught in our times together, incarnate those teachings in our 24/7 behavior … and in how we use our mouths. Speech and behavior.

The behavior of God’s people probably gets a lot more attention, but I want to make a case for the use of the Christian mouth, i.e., how our daily talking, our  communication is to be an art form in the service of God’s design to seek and save this wandering human scene. Again, I’m not talking about lectures or oratory, … but about warm, sensitive, conversation. The deterioration of language in so much of our media and socal-media culture, and the subsequent prevalence of uncouth street language, sexual slang/innuendo, and trash talk have significantly demeaned too much of our daily communication as though it were “cool.” But it’s not “cool” for God’s New Humanity people.

Language is an art form, and good sensitive communication is a gift. And for those of us who are indwelt by Christ, though faith, it is an expression of that very Christ who lives in us. The evidence of that will be significant expressed in our speech. For that reason, it deserves regular attention. For one thing it not only offers to others a window into our lives, … it can also (unfortunately) be used to hide whatever is the ‘real us.’ We can hide behind our talk, and remain strangers to each other. Good communication is a skill, and those who use it well are remembered (but not those who engage in the lowest-common-denominator street language).

Consider the wonderful references in scripture. From Proverbs: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Or, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.”  Or, “A soft answer turns away wrath, … the tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” From Ephesians: “Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up.” From Colossians: “Let your speech be seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Or Matthew: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Are you getting the message? The lifestyle of God’s New Creation folk includes the use of the mouth as an instrument of blessing. The sword of the Spirit is the capacity to gently live out and to talk so as to communicate the word m ir the reality of Christ, of the gospel in real life.

The ordinary conversation and language of a person unveils the character of the speaker. … I’m not talking about anything dramatic or ‘spiritual’ … whether we be talking about the economy, or giving some description, or something witty/humorous,  or  engaged in sensitive listening, and we engage with others in our daily routines.

I am always grateful for those who are especially gifted with words, like good authors, poets, etc. … but most of us are not so, but we are the ones who in the ordinary settings of daily life are the salt and light of God’s New Creation and are engaged with the most people. It is an unbelievable calling and to be developed in quiet over coffee conversations where the authenticity of Christ-in-us, and God’s love for them becomes incarnated.

For my perspective on the calling of the church in more detail:

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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