Say What?

“Salut! Ca va?” “Hi! How are you?” When I was between the ages of one and four, my Dad was in the Air Force and stationed in French Morocco. We had a French-speaking maid and French became my primary language. When we returned home to the USA, of course, not many outside the family could understand me.

Perhaps Christianese is our first language and only those in the family understand much of what we say. Believers use terms like justification, forgiveness or impute when we speak to one another. This is all to the good – unless we are discussing God’s good news with an unchurched lost person. Then it’s French to them.

I learned this in a memorable way. Once when encouraging a friend to trust Jesus, I said, “Mike, you need to be redeemed.” He said, “What the @#*! are you talking about?” Never made that mistake again!

I was zealous without knowledge. Terms such as redemption, fellowship and justification are right out of the daily world of the first century. Over the centuries, they have become Christian terms, but originally, they were business and legal words.

To clarify our Lord’s message, it’s sometime helpful to revert to similar usage. “Christ died in your place to take your deserved punishment. He then rose to life again to show that he did all that you needed. Why don’t you entrust yourself to him?” (believe). “Your sins put you in debt to God. Christ paid your debt when he died and rose again. Now, when you trust Jesus, God applies Christ’s payment to you so that you are debt free – forgiven.”

People must understand what we call them to believe. Speaking the message in their language as much as possible helps do this. Grâce à vous!

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About Rick Oglesby

Rick has worked as a church planter, pastor, missionary, Bible College President and teacher. He currently pastors in Wellington, Alabama.

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