the power of words

Category : God, different, faith

                

We all have more power over the people around us than we imagine. Every so often something reminds me of my this. I know I should be more aware of this, but life is hectic and it’s easier to just forget about it. After all, who wants to consider other people all the time?

The trouble is, that’s what we should be about as Christians – other people.

Now this power I talk of sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it? I promise I’m not any kind of supervillain. And I don’t wear a black hat. But I still have a lot of influence over people.

Sometimes I am reminded of this power when I watch the reactions of someone I’m talking to. I can see them deflate or get excited. Other times I see it in an e-mail. You can read the tension in the e-mail all because I was too hasty in writing down my thoughts. And still other times I see it in how relationships have changed over time.

When you look at the Bible you’ll find a lot of references to the words “mouth” or “speak”. The writers of these books knew just what words could do. They knew that revolutions and romances have started from a few select words. They knew that knowledge can be passed from one generation to the next just through talking. Even the universe was created with a word from God.

Words have power.

The irony is we often use this power in a way that actually hurts the message we’re trying to send. According to research done by the Barna Group when people are asked to associate terms with Christianity the picture isn’t flattering. They use words like “hypocritical”, “homophobic”, “closed minded”, and “judgmental”.

Ouch.

That does not make me feel good. In fact it breaks my heart because I know that I don’t always reach out to people in love. I don’t always characterize who Jesus was. I’m sometimes too consumed with my own life to care. In short, I am very unChristian. Oh sure I probably have excuses. Some of them are probably even pretty good.

But none of that matters. When we act carelessly with our words we run the risk of turning someone away from the very message they need to hear. If they don’t believe God is love because they see Christians as bigoted, how can they ever experience the freedom that love brings? If they hear us judging them instead of giving them support, why would they think God would be there for them when they are alone and hurting?

Words mean something. And all too often I’m guilty of using them carelessly.

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