Sunday, November 29, 2009

WORD PLAY


I like to play with words.  Sometimes words break out into others words.  The breakout gives depth or texture to the original word’s meaning.

Community sounds like “common unity.”  That may seem redundant, but it helps me see that what we hold in common connects us in a distinct way, opening the door for deeper relationship.

Our word for gospel comes from the Old English word split, “god spell,” which meant good news.  I track with the Old English thought that God spelled out his love in Jesus, the center of the good news.

Beware splits out to “be aware,” that is be wary or know what is going on.  It’s a warning not to be complacent.  Don’t think that the atmosphere has not or will not change.  Be on your guard.

I started thinking about the word “beware” because of a reading in Oswald Chambers.  In several successive devotions, the late preacher warns the believer to “beware.” 

Chambers exhorts us to beware that we not take God’s love too lightly; recognize the terrible price paid for our salvation through Christ’s death. He also warns us not to let circumstances distract us from a Christ-like mind, but to apply ourselves to prayer when we are discouraged.

The counsel that caught my attention was to beware wanting to be profound or deep instead of seeing God at work in the “shallow” moments of our lives.  Chambers chides the soul that wants to be considered only deep.  The soul that desires to be profound may think it is out of devotion to God, but Chambers diagnosis this as pride.  Here is his clincher, “Beware of posing as a profound person – God came as a baby.”

Now there is a simple thought that is truly profound.  In order to relate directly with us, God came to us in the simplicity and innocence of a baby, not the glory of a king or the wisdom of a sage.  He certainly possessed glory and wisdom, but Christ did not broadcast them to the world.  He wrapped them in the skin of an infant then unveiled them little by little as he grew “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

Where does this hit home?  When I want to somehow sound original and learned when I preach.  What I really need is to keep it simple.  I want to appear knowledgeable when I testify of Jesus.  I don’t want to look too uncomplicated.  I want a profound thought and the right words that will cause someone to believe.    

What the Lord shows me – and all of us – is that complexity can be overrated.  He uses simple things to communicate profound truth.  He even started simply – an infant on a hay bed.  Beware trying to be profound and thus prideful; keep it simple, saints, and imitate Christ’s humility.