It’s as if the air is peppered with speech bubbles loaded with expletives, punctuation marks, angry statements, and words of complaint, argument, indignation, or offense.
They pounce at us from the lunchroom at work to the car radio, from the television at night to social media by day. We receive emails, listen to sermons, and endure pronouncements from zealous family members or friends declaring positions and prophecies.
It’s as if we’ve slung backpacks over our souls and every word is another rock added to our burden.
And we add to the noise, don’t we? We’re not interested in being guilty of remaining silent when we should speak. Or of appearing
to agree, by not stating that we don’t. We aren’t ashamed of Christ, so even the shyest among us tries to take a stand, at least with words, if not with measurable action.
We’ve all hit the opinion highway at the same time, trying to evacuate before some terrible storm of racism, terrorism, or mass atheism strikes, but now the airways have become a parking lot and we’re just left honking our verbal horns.
Today, God showed me an exit ramp.
Too often, our conversations are about claiming or establishing power. The world would have us believe that to have an impact on others, to incite change, to be heard, we must have some measure of power.
So, we seek power in conversations by convincing, persuading, debating, proclaiming, boasting, or shaming. Even when our intent is love, we foolishly follow the world’s mapquest, imagining it’s a path that leads to God’s intended result.
We use our words the way the world does. They become clubs, weapons, pulpits, prods, and mazes – all intended to bring people to our way of thinking. This is not the way of Christ.
Paul states clearly, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (I Corinthians 4:20) The good news is, it’s not a power we must acquire, but one that is ours in Christ.
The apostle John wrote this about our Lord, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:3-5
Before one of the hardest conversations of His life, in the last hours Jesus would have with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion, the time when He must have wanted to impart words that would remain with them all, He served them.
Jesus took the role of a servant and told us that we should do the same. “How can I serve others today with my words?” This is our exit ramp out of the verbal traffic jam of our times.
I don’t ask this question often enough about my words. I know I’ll be held accountable for every word I speak and I try to weigh words carefully, but now I’m going to begin to ask, “Who do my words serve?” with every sentence.
Instead, “What words will serve this person best in this moment?” “How can I use words to serve these people in my workplace or my home?” “As a servant of God, following in the footsteps of Jesus, how can I serve a hurting world using words?”
I am already breathing easier. I can already feel the burden lift. The clamor is fading and I can hear the words Jesus clearer than I could yesterday.
Before we speak today, before we share something on social media, before we join in the debate at the lunch table, let’s remember where we came from, whose we are, and where we’re going. Then, let’s consider how we can serve the others in our conversation with our words.
How can our words serve others today? That’s the story I want to explore. How about you?
Let me know how it goes.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) August 30, 2017