If you’d like to join us in our journey reading all the way through the Bible this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to email back a copy of the reading plan we are using.
Adult language. It’s a warning often flashed on the screen before certain television shows and movies. It usually refers to either foul or sexual language. But a Biblical view of adult language is an entirely different story. We’ll talk about that today on Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
2 Kings 2:1-4:17, Psalm 99, Galatians 5 and Mark 14:66 -15:5 round out our reading plan for today. And the scene set before us where Peter denied Jesus 3 times is as powerful and tragic as it is familiar. He denied his relationship to Jesus by feigned obfuscation: “I neither know nor understand what you mean”; straight up denial of knowing Jesus at all; and then by taking an oath or swearing that he didn’t know Him. His swearing wasn’t necessarily what we might mean by using foul language, and yet it was language directly crafted to make him stand apart from being a follower of The Christ. It was language which identified him with the bystanders, rather than with Jesus. So while this passage is not meant as a polemic against foul language per se, yet it is instructive in that regard.
How is it, what is the mechanism by which Peter wishes to demonstrate to those accusing him of belonging to Jesus that he is not? Cursing and swearing.
This mode of language is one of the most identifiable traits of those in the world – of those who are not Christ’s. At least it was so in Jesus’ day and culture. But I wonder if it is not also true today? And I wonder if we take note of how easily we pick up the distinguishing marks of those outside of Christ in the adoption of words and phrases that link us more readily with the world, than with Him.
The language of Jesus is blessing, not cursing. It is speaking the truth, not lying. It is in affirming Gospel realities, not seeking to dodge discovery of Christ. It is ennobling. It is not crude.
Perhaps the common tag line of today: “what say you?” ought to be – “how say you?” Does your speech betray the reality of one bought by the blood of the Lamb and redeemed from the trench of lostness? Or does it share more in common with the culture? Are we full of cursing, invective, vitriol and denial? Of gutter language? Or that from the streets of Heaven? Full of blessing, honoring, love and affirmation of Christ?
What tell-tale signs have crept into our daily vocabulary – that prove we are identifying more with the world than Christ? What words and phrases might we use in ordinary conversation that would never pass our lips in the Church? And are we not duplicitous in this regard?
It is something to consider. Especially when it comes to disagreements and public discourse. When conversing with family, friends, on Facebook – and even when discussing – dare I say it? – politics. Col. 4:6 – “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Maybe before you hit “send” to post that next comment, or reply to that email – stop and pray with David: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in YOUR sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
I wonder just how much raucous rhetoric Jesus delights in? Don’t get me wrong – we are to be those who speak the truth about matters. All matters. Civil. Political. Social. Personal and spiritual. But we are also commanded to do so – in love. Eph 4:15 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
That beloved, is – adult language. Language that betrays our growth in grace and the image of Christ.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.