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Friday
Jul272007

Watch Your Language!

ob-barnraising-600.jpg The potential power underlying our relationship with God, a power that is probably the most under-utilized and neglected source of strength in the known universe, may be best illustrated in the way we refer to Him in our ordinary speech. We usually speak of God as “thee, thou, He, Him or you.” In grammatical terms, we see him as second or third person singular. For example, the old hymn, “How Great Thou Art” is written in second person singular. “Our God Is An Awesome God” is third person singular. Simply put, these references force us to think of God as “that being over there” or “that power up there.” Thus, we limit the God who comes to live inside us as the God who lives outside us; we view the resident Spirit as our next-door neighbor, or even our absent landlord; we accept his indwelling theologically, but we deny his indwelling as a practical reality.

What would happen if we were to speak of God as “we”, meaning he and us together? I believe that a simple, yet fundamental change in the way we talk would make and incredible difference in the way we think. Linguists tell us that language provides strong delimiters to our thinking, and that we unwittingly confine our concepts to the language we use to communicate with each other. In fact, today’s cutting edge innovators have a bold saying, “Change the language to change the culture.”

“The biggest human resources challenge we face in Government is changing its culture,” stated Morley Winograd, former advisor to the Vice President in a speech to Office of Personnel Management. “We need to create a culture that is more empowering, results-oriented, integrated across boundaries, and, above all else, externally focused. We should be interested in changing the culture of government by changing its conversation—when you change what people talk about, you change the culture.”

The concept of referring to God as “we” and “us” has not received much face time before the church, but it holds a solid place in scripture. Jesus explained this to the woman at the well in John 4:14. “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Indeed, the very foundation of our redemptive relationship with God rests on the premise of God’s indwelling presence. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. John 14:20. In Romans 8:9, Paul writes, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Note, this is not God down the street or across town, but God in us!

This truth inspired the Apostle Paul to write, “For we are labourers together with God.” I Corinthians 3:9. Again, he said, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” II Corinthians 6:1. When you think of “working together,” no picture comes closer to depicting the concept than the old-fashioned Amish barn raising.  One man cannot do what fifty can do, when they work in harmony with each other.  Clearly, God envisioned a close relationship with his church. He wants us to think of him as a friend, a fellow-worker and even a husband.

The force of this concept becomes even greater when we look at the last verse of the gospel of Mark. “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” Mark 16:20 . The phrase “working with them” comes from a single Greek word, “sunergountos”. Translated, it is the popular term in use today, synergy. It has two primary meanings: “1. The working together of two or more things, people, or organizations, especially when the result is greater than the sum of their individual effects or capabilities. 2. The phenomenon in which the combined action of two things, for example, drugs or muscles, is greater than the sum of their effects individually.” Microsoft® Encarta®. Divine synergy occurs when the church exercises its true partnership with God in fulfilling its earthly mission. From God’s perspective, the church is a joint venture with him, a combined effort to spread the gospel and advance the church’s frontiers around the world.

Perhaps some shun speaking of God as “we” in a desire to be humble, as though only an arrogant person would say such a thing. But failure to speak of God as “we’ or “us,” rather than “him, thee or thou” leads to spiritual anemia. We work in tandem with God with his full blessing. He is not remote, indifferent or reluctant to work with us. It is time to let “him” become “we.” This is the essence of his plan. “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22.

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Reader Comments (1)

Bloody brilliant. =]

I hope you tweet some of the concepts unfolded in this blog.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

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