Words and the Word
Life revolves around meaninglessness in our meetings with others.
Reflect on your conversations with people you meet in the street; how much of what we say means anything at all? I remember a lecturer who pulled me up one time.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Why do you ask?” He replied.
“Because I was being polite”, I said.
“Precisely”, he said, “you have no real interest in knowing how I am and I have no interest in telling you. Now, let’s talk about something interesting”.
Since that experience, I have watched out for verbiage.I get annoyed by vacuous encounters and lengthy exchanges filled with nothing other than noise.I get especially annoyed by cliches.
Church leaders are fond of cliches. It’s almost as though they think that if they say something enough times, they will make it come true. There seem to be people who love cheesy slogans that smack of bad advertising from a bygone age.
Worst of all, is the sort of person who imparts folksy wisdom; things like, “Don’t criticize another man unless you have walked a mile in his shoes”. I laughed out loud when I read a Canadian rejoinder to that particular line in the summer, “Because by then you will be a mile away from the man and, what’s more, you’ll have his shoes”. (Anyway, the shoes of the men I would be inclined to criticize tread the corridors of power and would be far beyond my budget).
One of the refreshing things about Jesus is that there is no verbiage, no waffle, and no cliches. The Gospels are full of a refreshing directness, an antidote to those who weighed their listeners down with words, words and more words. “Woe to you”, says Jesus to the Pharisees, those First Century churchmen with a penchant for an excessive use of words.
Woe to us, if we so fill the air with our own words that people cannot see beyond us to the one who is the true Word.
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