Helping Answer the Question: Who is Jesus?
On behalf of Christians everywhere, I apologize. We have our own exclusive language that has caused a lot of miscommunication, misunderstandings and alienation. Our words have confused many asking “Who is Jesus?” Let’s face it, Christians use a lot of confusing, antiquated terms and sayings. Sometimes this language of religiosity pushes people away. Imagine traveling in another country where you are surrounded by people who speak a different language. You struggle to communicate and end up getting frustrated because you can’t connect or complete even the simplest tasks. In the end you seek out someone who speaks English and avoid everyone else. It’s a similar phenomenon for people who are curious and just trying to get a picture of Jesus to better understand what His teaching and beliefs mean for their life. Here let me show you what I mean.
“Thanks for being transparent.”
I have nearly 30 years of experience navigating the language of the Christian church and even I don’t know what transparency means. Does it mean being honest and vulnerable? If so, why don’t we say that? Whatever the meaning of transparency is it should be clearer! (Wait, is that the real meaning clarity?) Let’s move on, this whole idea of transparency is going to give me those naked in public dreams.
“I’m a believer.”
How many times have you heard someone say this little gem? What does this mean? What are you a believer in? Frankly, I’m a believer in a lot of things. For example, I’m a believer in drinking my morning coffee because it helps everyone around me avoid an all day attitude storm. I’m a believer in using helmets because it saves people from brain bashing activities. I’m also a believer in the fact that using this saying stamps a negative stigma on someone who is simply trying to talk about Jesus.
Growing up immersed in the Christian bubble I heard this a lot in a variety of contexts. Are you born again? When were you born again? Are your friend’s born again? While the meaning of born again is actually a deeply important spiritual concept of choosing to solely follow Jesus, the outside world sees this little term of ours as odd, disorienting, and containing uncomfortable and disgusting biological imagery.
Joking aside, it is important to be ready to share our faith convictions. How can we express ourselves without falling into the trap of inadvertently alienating our friends by using terms and phrases they don’t fully understand? You’re probably already saying: “We need to meet them where they are at!” Exactly. So, let’s stop using these terms. Let’s listen more and think about what we are saying. How about rather than admitting to being lathered in red biohazard we say we believe in forgiveness and grace to help us past the times we’ve messed up. Rather than saying you’ll “bathe someone in prayer” how about just praying with them and saying “I’m here for you.” Instead of saying “I’m a brother/sister in Christ” we say, “I’ll help you find answers.” You get the point.
Language is the foundation of mastery. Let’s do a better job of explaining our jabberwocky so others can answer the “Who is Jesus” question. To best prove my point: why don’t we make a covenant with one another to hold each other accountable to walk with the Lord and spread the blessings of Jesus onto the lost. Confusing, right?
Translating Christianese: Helping answer the question: Who is Jesus?