I am learning the importance of being very conscious of the language I use these days. Growing up in the church and listening to Christians talk (myself included) I so often find us using words, phrases, and concepts that really only church people would understand. I was listening to some radio programming yesterday from some folks who would probably disagree with almost everything I am doing… simply because of what it is associated with. One of my favorite things they said was that the gospel is supposed to “offend” and the world is supposed to hate us.
I think of all this as “insider” talk. Reason being, who are we talking to? Who are we trying to influence and make a difference with? If we only seek to talk to other Christians, we can simply continue to use the same language without thinking about it… we can continue to teach the same things without thinking. It seems so often that the “gospel” that so many people talk about, and the “Word” that people “need to hear,” and the “good new” that is preached is only for those who already agree. Now, before I sound like I am pointing fingers, I must say that this is something that I stray into all too easily. My reason for the consideration of another way is because I am working on it myself.
For the first time in my life, I am actually spending time with people who are not blatant Christians. Is it fair for me to say that I love it? Is this okay… probably not for some. As these relationships develop I realize that this good news that I want to live out and embody is not necessarily for people who already have it and already agree with me. This drastically changes the way I talk and the things I say. “Insider” ways of speaking are absolutely useless. I need to think and ask what I mean by what I am saying… what other people mean by what they are saying. Perhaps there can be a greater accountability with the way we speak. I am finding much more intentionality in this area within the emerging church. Who ever said that we are ALL watering things down for people. Maybe we are doing just the opposite?
** It is interesting that the “insider” / “outsider” distinction really only happens on a negative level. I don’t know if there is an actual positive way of thinking about it. Subconsciously, we stray into thinking this way and it gives us reason to abuse the other. It really gets me when our theology specifically and unapologetically affirms this thinking. Those who would not consider themselves “insiders” see this all too easily and perhaps it is one of the biggest turnoffs to the church. our country, our cultural cliques, our media, our gender role distinctions, or our racial / national concepts of superiority.