I was struggling yesterday and today over my use of “hullabaloo” in a recent post over the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s soon to be released book. It was in no way to call into question or trivialize all the concerns that were voiced. So I crossed out that word this morning, and replaced it with the more fitting words: “controversy that erupted.”
Words are sacred. We do well to measure them and think carefully before we speak. And hopefully come to the habit where our words more and more are less and less offensive. We may mean well, but what we say may not mean the same to others who hear them. Or maybe the thought and attitude we have is wrong, or not helpful concerning the matter at hand. That is all part of the stew, whether we like it or not.
God’s word consists of words. We learn from that word that the Spirit gives words to his people today in the gift of prophesying, all of those words to be measured by the hearers with reference to God’s word. We learn from scripture (and know from life) that words have power to build up or tear down, to save or to destroy. And that the word of the cross is the power and wisdom of God to us who are being saved. And that by our words we will be justified or condemned.
We will have to backtrack at times, and take back our words. Along with confession if need be, or the acknowledgment that we were unaware of how our words were misconstrued. That can come out of the hardness of our hearts, no less. Of course it can simply be a mistake and a lack of knowing what is offensive.
By words we warn as well as encourage. All in love, truth and love being joined together. The truth as it is in Jesus, God’s final Word to us. We do well to seek to be in living interaction with that Word, Jesus. In fact that is to be our endeavor as believers in our following of Jesus. But never are words set aside.
Maybe as we go on in life we see the need for less words, although that may depend on our calling from God. I think it is likely though that we’ll learn to listen more and speak less. And that the words we do speak will be much more in line with our listening always first to God as well as to others. Relational in terms of the Jesus Creed, always at the heart of what we’re growing together to become in Jesus, and do. So that God’s word through Jesus will be our word to others through the letters we are becoming through the Spirit to and for the world.