This is an article I've written and submitted to the ClockTower to hopefully be published in the future. Thank you to everyone that read my "Boulder" article that was recently featured in the ClockTower. Perhaps I'll put it up on my blog sometime. For now, I'll continue giving you guys sneak peeks at things I submit for contests and whatnot. The blog views are approaching 2000. I'm stoked.
Words. They are the love of my life. They’re used to express feelings, tell stories, and describe stuff. I really like expanding my vocabulary to move outside typical vernacular because certain words hit home with some people more than others. Some of my most disliked words are “good”, “bad”, and “okay”. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with them. They’re just so trite. They become little shields we can hide behind when people ask us how we are. I’ve felt this way about a lot of words, but especially in church. As a kid, it seemed I’d always hear the same things over and over again. Words like “faith” and “grace” would be constantly mentioned. I used to wonder what they actually meant. It wasn’t until late in high school that I finally gained some real understanding behind the religious cliches.
Faith, I learned was different than believing. You can believe in something but not have faith in it. I believe that certain things exist, but I don’t necessarily have faith in them. I believe in the wind and I have faith that it will fly my kite. Faith is a forward action, not a passive one. Usually it requires a bit of risk. Tithing is one of the best ways to physically demonstrate faith. Especially in a world of economic instability, giving money back to God can feel impossible. But in doing so, you are physically having faith and allowing Him a chance to show Himself in providing for your needs.
Grace is a beautiful thing and one of the cliches I dislike most. It doesn’t seem like people are aware of its meaning when they thank God for it. Perhaps if you would ask a person what grace is, they could give you a textbook definition. But its more than that. Grace is how we are saved. Grace is God choosing to take us to Heaven even though we don’t deserve it and cannot ever earn it.
Then there were other words that I heard used for God. Words like Father or Master. I’d hear people sing “What a Friend we have in Jesus”, and that didn’t make sense to me. Jesus didn’t feel like a friend. My friends felt like friends. God didn’t feel like a Father. To me, Jesus was Someone far away chilling with God and a Ghost. Not a friend. I preferred the words “Savior” and “Redeemer” better. They felt more theatric. More epic. They really captured who Jesus was and is to me. The Being that saved my soul and gave me a chance for something better.
Words are important. And it is important to know what they mean. Empty religious phrases thrust into self-glorifying public prayers mean nothing. Big elaborate words hold no water when you don’t know their meaning. Prayer and worship become a sloppy soup of pseudo-spirituality. Throw in a some “grace” here and a hint of “faith” there. How tastefully disgusting. It may look appealing, but I imagine it tasting like an old shoe. When a person prays or speaks of God, intention is everything. You can usually tell when someone is genuine. But even if everybody else is deceived by a showman’s prayer, God knows the truth. He sees to our core. He cuts through the webs and masks of our attempted exterior perfection. This also means that even simple prayers are glorifying to God. That includes prayers with “good” “bad” and “okay”. He’d much prefer basic heartfelt sentences to a mouthful of huge meaningless words. God sees past words and appearances straight to what our soul is trying to communicate. Words are important. The way we use words is important. But in the end, its the motivation that really counts.