War of Words- part 2

part 2 of a series


One of my favorite films is The Princess Bride. The movie is chock-full of quotable lines and humorous zingers. Early in the movie, Princess Buttercup is kidnapped by three “villains;” Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo. As they sail across the sea, Inigo notices a boat in pursuit. Over the next several minutes, after each update of how the mysterious stranger continues to advance upon them, Vizzini spits out, complete with a lisp, “Inconceivable!” After several utterances of the same epithet, Inigo makes the observation, “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I believe that as we seek to engage the world around us with the good news of Jesus we are using words that are defined by the world in a way that differs vastly from our long accepted definitions. It’s as if the people we speak to are saying to the Church, “You keep on using these words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.” The result: disconnection, confusion and rejection of the Gospel. We are left scratching our heads and muttering, “Inconceivable!”

The Rules Are Changing

I have four beautiful daughters. I love them very much, but as much as I try to believe to the contrary, they are not perfect. They often love to play games with each other. Some games are real, others are made up on the spot, all are played with intense competition. The Richmond gene pool runs deep with a fierce lust for not merely defeating an opponent, but destroying them. Couple this with the genetics of my equally competitive wife and what you get is a recipe for a knock-down, punch you in the face type argument over Chutes and Ladders.

Recently, my oldest daughter, Ellie, taught chess to my second oldest, Jenna. In turn, Jenna decided to teach it to the five-year old, Savannah. Before long, Jenna was making up rules on the spot in order to reinforce her chances of winning. Savannah, easily the most competitive of the four, was not to be outdone. She simply removed all the pieces from the board, took them to her bedroom and proclaimed herself the winner, to which Jenna protested vehemently.

What happened? The rules changed. The battle-lines were redrawn. What started out as a civilized chess match became a chaotic melee that hardly resembled the original game. This is what Satan is attempting to do in the battle for the souls of men; he is trying to rewrite the rules. How is he doing this? By redefining words that make up the very core message of the Gospel message. Words like love, joy, communion and fellowship have all suffered a severe makeover, yet the Christian subculture is largely unaware of the shift occurring in the minds of our friends, neighbors and co-workers.

A Confession

I have a confession to make. I’m a nerd. (I know, I know, some of you are quite startled by such a revelation and may need to take a break from reading in order to collect your thoughts. Feel free to do so, I won’t be offended.) One of my “nerdy” interests is words and their origins, or the science of etymology (not to be confused with entomology, the study of insects. Bugs; ICK!). As I said, it is a hobby and I by no means consider myself an expert, yet I feel I am up to the task of taking you through a journey over the next several posts and exploring how some vital words have changed, and what we may be able to do about it. In doing so I hope to make you aware of the ever-changing landscape of the battle we are fighting and we can shift from being reactive to pro-active in bringing people to the foot of the cross.

To be continued…

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