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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Learning to Speak All Over Again

One thing that has really amazed me the last few months in my classes is just how accessible the gospel was in the 1st century. Living some 2000 years later, we have accepted some of this jargon as typical speech when it comes to the Bible, but many of these phrases were cutting edge material in the first century!

Did you know that the fastest growing "religion" is the 1st century was the emperor's cult? It was basically the Caesar's attempt to get everyone to do what he said. But within this spreading national religion of Rome were embedded some significant words. Everyone was to proclaim, "Caesar is Lord!" The spread of this religion was known as spreading the gospel of Caesar.

The apostle Paul then, among others, would grab these phrases that were on the minds and the hearts of the people and turn them into declarations about Christ. Another significant example would be the prevalent theme of "wisdom" in 1st century philosophical circles. Again, Paul is intentional about using this concept, but developing it into the "wisdom of God."

Here's what I'm pondering today. Phrases like this made a ton of sense when they were first used. Yet we still use them to speak about Christ today. I'm wondering if some people have little interest God, Jesus, or the Bible, because they don't speak the language. We expect people to relate to some of these phrases that mean little to them in our modern culture. It is almost as if people would need to be experts in 1st century Roman culture to really appreciate the message about Jesus. This is bad. We need to change our vocabulary so the timeless message carries real force again.

Isn't it about time we learn to speak a new language? Isn't about time that we learn to speak about Christ and the hope he offers in ways that grab the hearts and minds of people today? I'm wrestling with this thought today. If proclaiming "Jesus is Lord" was a direct affront to Caesar's religion in the 1st century, what would that look like today? Thoughts?

What are other phrases that Christians use that have very little meaning outside of a church building?

What phrases could we begin to use?

On your journey, may you walk with a Christ who is as relevant in 21st century America as he was in 1st century Rome.

Jesus is my president,


Britt said...

Probably why those "Jesus is my homeboy" and "Mary is my homegirl" t-shirts were so popular :)

Pastor Nick said...

Yeah, but I think phrases like "Jesus is Lord" (as opposed to Caesar is Lord") carried so much weight and meaning. It feels to me that what we do now is just trivials the message. We make it itno slogans and cliche's. I'm not sure that's helpful.

I am trying to figure out what our cultural equivalent would be. Jesus is my president is maybe getting closer. Jesus is my homeboy- well, maybe not so much. I love Jesus more than my TV. Still doesn't carry the right significance.