Union Ridge Church

May 3, 2023

by Reverend Dan on May 3, 2023
My grandmother Emma’s house was less than 100 yards from our house, and I spent countless hours with her on her porch swing, watching the sunset over the river and learning lessons about life. When we weren’t on the porch, my favorite room in her house was the “guest room” because in that room she kept her collection of books on built-in wooden shelves. That room bordered on sacred for me. I can still remember pulling a little stool out so I could reach a book on the upper shelves. The smell of the books and pages aged with years; it was there where I fostered my love of reading and explored worlds far away sitting in a rocking chair with the lamp beside it pulled close.

I don’t think the world values words as much as it used to. They’ve become cheap. Overused. Misused. Manipulated. Yet as Christians, they are our lifeblood. John begins his Gospel with the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word.” And that theme can be traced throughout the entire Bible. God believed words to be so important that it was one of the titles – the very first one – His Son and our Messiah carried: “the Word.” And Jews and Christians have long been known as “people of the Book”, once again affirming the importance of words in our faith and in our lives.

Our world is devaluing both words and the Word, and we are less the better for it. In 1946 George Orwell (who would become most famous for his book “1984”) wrote an essay about politics and the English language, and in it he said political language was destroying the English language in America because it “was designed to make lies sound truthful.” Prophetic? You bet. Now words are regularly warped and taken out of context, and even invented, simply for political gain (“fake news”, “wokeism”, “alternative facts”, etc.) Paul Pastor, a current Christian writer, said that the church is following suit. He said, “in an age of cheap speech, words have become disposable. We need to once again cherish language.” Case in point – in 2018, reading for pleasure was at an all-time low: 16 minutes per day. Television? 2:50 hours per day. Social Media? 2:27 hours per day. We don’t take the time to craft language anymore. Instead, everything is an acronym. KWIM? The nuances of words are being lost before our very eyes. Most language today is an effort to sustain our worldview and words are now something to be manipulated to communicate dogmatic opinions instead of carefully constructing the truth.

So, what do we do? We work to give words their meaning and purpose and value back. We stop taking them for granted. We need to be more thoughtful about every text, every tweet, every message, every email, every conversation we have. We “lace our words with grace”, as Paul said. And most importantly, we need to get back in THE Word. Whether it’s KJV, NIV, RSV (more acronyms), get back in the Bible. Each word there is carefully crafted by the One who spoke the world into being . . . with words.​​​​​​​