Tuesday, December 23, 2014
A Four Letter Word
I have to start this piece out by saying this: Living the life of a writer, well, it’s not always that glamorous, nor is it all that convenient (for those of you who pay attention to the time stamps on Facebook, you might note the exceptionally early morning one on this release from myself). I woke up at around 2 am with my sinuses yelling at me about the Santa Ana winds that were raging locally and drying them out severely. Our cat Dakota, all twenty plus pounds of him cutting off the circulation in my legs and my stomach telling me that I was unreasonably hungry at this early hour, well, these things had got my attention and they were not going to let me sink quietly back into sleep despite my wishing they would.
With all that boring detail out of the way, after I was so rudely awakened by the above, I found my inconveniently awakened mind dwelling on several Facebook posts that I had looked at over the last week. These posts would have been forgettable if it were not for one key similarity; they all contained at least one four letter word that earned the reaction of me hiding them on my wall.
They each had a (in my opinion anyway) a highly offensive four letter word that even though I try to think of myself as enlightened, even though I fancy myself an expert at communication, and even though I think despite my occasionally strong opinions, I am patient and tolerant, I found myself angry.
There are words that we use these days. Words that (at least when I was growing up) would have once earned you a bar of soap in your mouth, an hour long lecture from Mom or Dad, or even a good spanking (ooohhh! Lord forbid we actually discipline our children!). And now, they just flippantly drop from our tongues, pens, or keyboards as if they were actually now cool, or cutting edge, or as if they had somehow lost their intended meanings.
I mean, nowadays, if I put something down like; “What the @#$!@?!,” you have already filled in the blank without a blink before you even finish reading the previous sentence.
By now, you may be wondering where I am going with this. I get it. Your time is precious and well, so is mine. I will get to the point now.
If you, like me, are a Christ follower then you should already know what scripture says about our tongues. They are a flaming fire. They can set the whole world ablaze. Their occasional poison can corrupt all that comes out from our lips.
Conversely, the things that can also come from our tongues can lift others up from their pain and hopelessness. We can educate, praise, and cheer on those around us with fervor and loving abandon so that the world is made a better place.
Wouldn’t you agree with me that doing all the good that is possible for us to do with the words we use is a better use of our words than those that tear others down or cause them to stumble in this already challenging walk through life?
Please don’t be offended if I tell you that I may have blocked some of you or even worse, un-friended others due to your frequent peppering of your posts with various 4 letter words that I don’t want my eleven year old seeing when she peeks over my shoulder. Because, shock of all shocks, yes I am still teaching my kid that these still offensive words are best left out of their vocabulary and will still to this day earn a punishment in our home for their use.
As followers of Christ, we are called upon to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We are strangers in s strange land. Aliens. And, we need to realize that we are being observed by those around us who wonder exactly what makes a Christian different than them. What separates us and distinguishes us from the rest of the religious followers that surround us and call out for our attention.
I’ve asked this question before and I am using it again now; “If being a follower of Christ was/is a crime, is there enough evidence against us to convict us?”
You see, this world is sending out so many messages these days about how we should live, dress, eat, and yes how we should speak, that I ask you: “What messages are we sending to those around us by what we say?” Do we care enough about the messages we convey and the ultimate impact they have on those in our circles of influence?
We are called by God through Christ to be a light, to shine his light to the lost world around us. How can they see or hear his message to them if they are distracted by our misbehavior? When we act like the world and we consistently speak like them, then how exactly do you think they are going to see anything in us that says Christ is worth following?
You see, I have seen a growing disease in the world today. It is a disease distinguished by many of us idolizing the rebel spirit, the pirate, the outlaw. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jesus was/is a rebel and this is clearly seen in scripture. But, for us to maintain and live out his rebel example, we certainly cannot justify much of our all too common behavior nowadays. I have been appalled in the last few years to even see some “so called” church pastors (not mine of course) using foul language from the pulpit in a sad and misguided sort of “shock and awe” campaign to either get our attention or drive home their point. I find this truly disgusting and indefensible and trust me I have personally witnessed it.
If through scripture, we are told that what we think and say should be pure, noble, and praiseworthy, then how is it that we fall into the trap of often speaking offensively? If we are told to avoid coarse speech and joking, then what justification is there for us when we are guilty of it?
Please hear me on this. I am not your judge. You should live your life and live it as you see fit. You answer to our God, not to me. I love each of you and even though I do block or unfriend those who cross my lines, I do not pretend to be perfect. I only ask that you occasionally check yourself. Look closely to see if what you say and how you are acting reflects who you are in Christ.
The things we say and do should not be a cause for any of our weaker (in the faith) brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble in their walks with him. And, we should be concerned about this. Even though we stand and fall to our God alone, we are held accountable for the influence we have on those around us. For good or bad, we are not islands and we cannot delude ourselves into believing that our behavior and the things we say go unnoticed.
The only 4 letter word that should define and distinguish us is this: Love! When people think of us, any “ugly” 4 letter word that we can think of, should not be what comes to mind.
I could go on and on with this subject, but for now I am shelving it. All that I ask is that you (like me) consider carefully the things that we do, say, and write. Many others around you whether you acknowledge it or not are in fact paying attention. You and I have a responsibility to filter these things through the guidance of our Savior in Christ.
Live free, rebel against the things of our spiritual enemy, love deeply, and speak the truth!
May God richly bless you and your family at this Christmastime 2014.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
1 Peter 2:12
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.