Larry Lilly's Letter Wednesday October 12, 2005
In order to communicate more effectively preachers, teachers and others who stand and sit in front of people have made conscious efforts to use words and statements that the average 6th grader can understand. I have one friend who often brags that even the pre-school children in his congregation can grasp the meaning of supposedly profound statements. He should live so long.
Preachers and engineers tend to sink into the pit of using the jargon of our profession and assume that every person we talk with understands the terms. This is not the case.
Yesterday while riding to the grave site in the hearse I talked or rather listened as the matriarch of the family funeral home talked, and then talked some more. As she is a very interesting person I enjoyed learning some of the ins and outs of her business. At one point as she talked about her rescued dogs, she told me of their eyes and how they can ask for food by merely using their eyes. Every dog lover knows this to be true. I remarked, "Brinkley my late Airedale Terrier had the 'eye' quality, I often said, 'Brinkley, if Lazarus had your eyes, he would have been the richest beggar in Jerusalem!' She laughed and remarked on the case of the famous beggar who went to heaven.
The other day I had attempted to use the eyes of Brinkley and the person to whom I was speaking knew about the power of a dogs begging eyes, but asked me in all sincerity, "Who was Lazarus?" Talk about an opportunity to talk about Jesus! My false assumption that everyone knows about the Rich Man and Lazarus as told by Jesus, gave me an opportunity do two things, make Jesus more clear, and to reevaluate my words and stories when I will not have the chance to explain. The majority of Western society no longer knows the stories of Jesus.
Even the simplest of stories or revered statements can be over the head of someone as the following shows.
"A visiting preacher in a vain attempt to impress, prayed with fervor and pomp, 'Dear Lord without you we are but dust.' A very small child ended the service for all practical purpose when she was heard to ask in shrill childish voice, 'Grammy, what is butt dust?'"
Hey, a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
As hard as it is to always effectively get our story or idea across verbally, it is much tougher to constantly effectively communicate our faith through our life, or as the folks in prison often say, “Walk the talk.” The watching world may phrase the statement differently, but it cannot phrase it more clearly. The question is always there: "Are you living out what you say you believe?"
Larry Lilly Copyright © 2005 Use with credit
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true Larry. we tend to use our christianese too much..I recall a many chorus and hymns with words that did not make any sense..