When Clarity is Called for

“There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me.” (1 Corinthians 14:10-11 NLT)

Having been on 3 mission’s trips to other countries, I know first-hand the frustration caused by not knowing the native language of the person with whom I’m trying to speak. I remember sitting with three little girls trying to communicate. I had my English/Spanish dictionary, but every time I tried to say a word in Spanish all these little girls could do was laugh. Laughter became our “common” language.

But I’ve also been engaged in conversations with people who speak fluent English but have trouble understanding my “Christianeze.” (“refers to the contained terms and jargon used within many of the branches and denominations of Christianity as a functional system of religious terminology.” Wikipedia).

It doesn’t take long to learn the particular lingo of a given group of Jesus followers. We get so accustomed to speaking about “Jesus, the Father, grace, fellowship, salvation, sin, the Word, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity” and on and on that we wrongly assume the average unchurched person on the street will know what we’re talking about. But many of those words are lost on them. They don’t have a clue how they apply to their life.

Dr. Eric Mason rightly noted: “Just because you explained something to someone one time, doesn’t mean they got it! Clarity demands patience and relationship!” That’s why the most effective evangelism (yep, there’s one of those words 😊) grows out of relationship. When we take the time to nurture a friendship, people are more likely to let you know what they’re “hearing” and what they understand and what they don’t.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes in our zeal we can come across as confrontational, almost angry, which can lead to arguments. Someone told me a long time ago that no one is ever argued into heaven. I agree. But the fact remains that when we’re trying to help someone understand that they’re a sinner, separated from God and headed to a Christless eternity, it may not set well with them.

Keith Green, whom I learned to love and appreciate when I was a teenager in the 60’s said: “I’ve never tried to be controversial. The truth is controversial enough.” Keith was a young man on fire for Jesus who died much too soon. But his point is well taken. The Truth (Jesus) can be controversial, thus the reason for time and patience, to give rise to other opportunities to bring clarity.

There’s a young man I met when my wife and I were looking to buy something for our house. He was personable, knowledgeable, and just the kind of person I’d enjoy getting to know. So, I offered him a proposition: “If I buy this item from you, will you go to dinner with me so I can speak with you about Jesus?” He said “yes,” and that has led to multiple lunches and dinners together.

It’s been almost two years since we met and he’s still not a believer, but I continue to pray for him and reach out to him in order to bring more clarity to his understanding of who Jesus is and why it’s so critical that he understand who He is and why He came. Obviously, insight and true understanding of Jesus is a ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our words are simply conduits for the Holy Spirit to speak into a person’s life.

So, clarity, in it’s deepest and best sense, will only come to us and flow through us as we continually seek it in prayer. Prayer is the language of heaven and is the only avenue anyone gains enough clarity to say “yes” to Jesus and open their heart, mind, soul, and strength to Him.

 Blessings, Ed 😊

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