One of the most frustrating things for me as a communicator occurs when I realize that my audience and I are using the same words but different dictionaries.
It happens more often than we realize. And when it does, it can result in true words leading people down a false path.
For instance, tolerance used to mean allowing people to be wrong. Now it means acknowledging everyone is right. So if I take a passage like 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 or 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and plead with my congregation to be more tolerant, they don’t hear gentleness, humility, and patience toward those who don’t yet know the truth. They hear a call to support and defend the gay agenda.
I’m convinced the same thing has happened to the word faith. It no longer means what it used to mean. Worse, for most people, it conjures up an image that has nothing to do with the Biblical concept of faith.
I find that most people today (Christians and non-Christians) define Faith as a feeling of optimism and confidence. It means believing we can still win the game even though we’re five runs down with two outs in the ninth. It means planning a three year project even though the doctors have given us two months to live. It’s the mental gymnastics of positive thinking that rejects all thoughts of defeat.
That’s why I’m not using the word faith much these days. Instead, whenever possible, I’ve started to use the word trust. It’s much closer to what Jesus and the apostles had in mind.
No one thinks of trust as magically shielding them from defeat. Instead, we think of it as something people have in the midst of defeat – when things don’t make sense – when nothing works out as expected.
It’s what Job had when all hell broke loose. It’s what Jesus had in the garden. It’s what the ancient prophet Habakkuk had when he penned these powerful words: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength . . . Habakkuk 3:17-19
And isn’t that what we and our people need in these challenging times?
What do you think?