This week while at my parents, I helped them set up a new computer. Several years ago several of the siblings put together to purchase a used computer for them, and they never upgraded! The dinosaur they were using was so slow. You could point your browser to a website and go make coffee. It might be downloaded by the time you got back. And they were on dial-up. Remember dial-up? Trying to forget it! Anyway, now they have a brand new computer and a cable Internet connection. I helped them set up some things to make it easy for them to navigate and left them to their own devices. Not that either of them care to delve into the depths of the Internet universe.
Anyhoo, I was trying to teach my mom how to do a few simple things, and she catches on pretty quick. But even so, I had to explain some things several times. I was telling Maggy about this and she made an excellent point: I know all about it, but mom doesn’t. In fact, Maggy suggested that I had been impatient in telling her how to do some things on the computer as well. I spoke about actions and links that were familiar to me, but that were totally new to her. I’d say, “hit file, then exit”. This is met with a stare. I can see their eyeballs roving the screen in front of them. File was hard to see I guess if you don’t know where it was. Then their eyes would go down to the keyboard, maybe it’s there. You know, I think they do not understand the talk. It doesn’t matter if my instructions are clear, correct, and concise. If you do not talk the talk, they might as well be in Greek.
This is probably true when we talk about God to people who are putting their fingertips on the keyboard for the first time. We readily confess that God is omnipotent and omnipresent! OK, maybe we don’t use those words much. My thought is not about using words no one understands…it’s about using words that everyone understands but they just can’t get their bearings enough to assign them meaning. God is everywhere may be a wondrous statement to us. Perhaps a listener might wonder “what is God” … “where is God” … “how did God get to be God” … we’re assuming that they’re thrilled that God is all around us … they’re wondering what we are talking about and why we’re talking about it. Yes, there are millions of evangelicals all around us who know the talk. But there are also millions of people who are unacquainted with the Talk.
How important is it that we pay attention to the way we talk about God with those who may be unfamiliar with our meanings?
How important is it that we can articulate in clear ways some of our most basic assumptions about God?
How important is it that we challenge our most basic assumptions from time to time in order to grasp their significance?
“In the beginning God…” could be a phrase that begins a five volume essay. Why would we assume that everyone understands it. It’s so simple to us … we know where FILE and EXIT are. And if people who are unfamiliar with the Scriptures and faith have a hard time with some basic concepts, what do they make of our endless arguments about a hundred different doctrinal distinctions? Could a person who does not yet comprehend how the Bible could be the Word of God even begin to sort out what our end-time schematics are and why?
What do you think … and how do we do better at expressing the simplicity that is in Christ in simple ways?
Thanks for reading,