WORDS FROM W.W. June 3, 2009
“The Tendency to Talk To Ourselves”
There are occasions when I talk to myself. It’s usually when I’m confused by something that I don’t understand; or perplexed by something someone else is doing.
Most of the perplexing moments happen in the midst of driving down the road.
“Go ahead! Obviously you’re more important than anyone else on the road!”
“Ma’am, there’s two lanes. Pick one!”
“If you’d get the cell phone out of your ear maybe you could not be so clueless about what is happening around you.”
I can be obnoxious when I’m talking to myself. Let me control the conversation and I can sink to new lows. Of course, the people I’m talking to don’t know I’m talking to them or about them…and probably don’t care either! By focusing on their wayward ways I can feel a little vindicated and self-righteously elevated.
There’s a tendency in churches to also talk to ourselves, either at the exclusion of others or with the complete unawareness of others.
We exclude others by using language that is known to us, but foreign to others. I’ll always remember the story of a church in New York that was situated by the main route that led people to the beach. In the summertime the road was a constant congested line of vehicles heading for the sand, sun, and water. The church put up a sign out in front of their building and along the road that read “Have You Been Washed In the Blood of the Lamb?” The meaning was fairly clear to the people from the church, but was completely misinterpreted by many of the beachgoers that drove by.
Think about it. If you were unfamiliar with Christian terminology and beliefs, what would you think about being asked to wash yourself in a young animal’s blood?
The challenge of the church is not to de-mystify the gospel, while conveying truth in understandable ways.
We also talk to ourselves when we think we’re speaking to unbelievers, but both sides “have their windows up.” It’s like bemoaning the low turn-out for a church event by asking those who ARE there why there aren’t more? Sometimes we talk about the need to Jesus to those who already know him and stay away from those who don’t know him, and are unaware of not knowing him. After all, a vast majority of the American population list themselves as “Christian.” If all they need to do is check a box on a census survey what else do they need to know?
“They need to know Jesus!” we tell ourselves. “If they knew Jesus like we know Jesus they would have a lot less problems,” we keep saying…to ourselves.
When we talk in “we” and “they” statements the windows are rolled up and no one is listening.
Talking to ourselves convinces us that we’re spiritual, and others aren’t. We’ve decided who the goats are and who the sheep are. Who’s going to burn and who isn’t?
And if we can convince ourselves that someone else is eternally doomed, it’s somehow easier to not have to look at our own relationship with Jesus.

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