I’ve noticed a trend: we (including myself) are far too inclined to use sarcasm and biting words. Our speech has become so toxic and begrudging that it has become the norm in the way we communicate with one another. We are far too comfortable spewing toxic venom that is thwarting the movements of Life. I’ve realized that our language and words actually portray the place of our heart.
This is equally, and perhaps more sadly, a problem in the church.
We are allowing cynicism and slander to run rampant and it’s ruining my friends’ perception of a life-filled relationship with Jesus. I’m sure everyone reading has seen people on Facebook (Or Twitter), self-proclaimed followers of the faith, belittling their friends with sarcastic remarks. Alternatively, maybe you were on the receiving end at a church event where someone questions your motives or your appearance. Maybe you’ve watched a pastor communicate from stage words that are far from grace-filled and closer to fear-filled. Perhaps you have overheard churches speaking poorly of other churches and pastors.
Words are powerful; they can build awe-inspiring movements and destroy formidable organizations.
A beautiful wordsmith says this,
Any love less than unconditional is so under Christian it’s unrepentant, the physical part of my church emits the invisible art of my work.”
You might think that the above quote comes from someone like C.S. Lewis, Spurgeon, or Chesterton—but, it comes from hip-hop artist, Lupe Fiasco. Here Lupe is drawing attention to his invisible art form (his words), being a response to the physical temple—the dwelling place of God within him. Since we’re exegeting (picking apart) hip-hop, we might as well go on. This song title is called Dots & Lines and the hook in the chorus says, “You look just like how I’ma be sacred geometry.” Sacred Geometry is the design used in sacred building and construction. The geometry within these sacred buildings is often unconventional, yet goes to create beautiful places of worship.
I think Lupe is on to something; we have to realize that our unconventional physical dwelling places of God (our multi-cultural bodies) should fully represent the unconditional love God has for His creation. Far too often, we fall into the traps of creating death with our words–destroying the potential life in those we encounter. We are short-tempered, jealous, scathing, slanderous, and cheap. We are operating out of a place of fear, rather than a place of love. The place of fear is where we attempting to insulate ourselves by using harsh criticisms and language to belittle others.
Maybe you’re tuning out because you’re not there in your journey with Jesus. These words are for you too. You can literally change the course of those you encounter’s day just based around a few words that communicate care and intentionality. It matters if we’re good people, because it changes the trajectory of culture when we choose others’ lives over our own fear. We too are dwelling places of something bigger, something more compelling than our own selfishness. I believe regardless of who you are, or where you have been—you literally have a Creator dwelling inside of you. So, live towards that sacred geometry.
Three quick ways to change our trajectory and language patterns.
- What you say is whom you portray.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Every encounter with someone is an opportunity to put on display what or who you represent. For those that choose to follow Jesus, this should be clear. Jesus always opted to represent God in every encounter—always choosing life, over words of death. We can simply pick to represent our fear, and ourselves and live towards death. Or, we can represent the place we want others to go, a place that is marked with love, peace and grace. When we use words to encourage and build up, we’re living into our “sacred geometry.”
- Slower speech helps you be quicker to think.
James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
I’m terrible at this. I love to interrupt people and think of my retort while other people are speaking. However, if we shoot from the hip a bit less, we can be a bit more pragmatic in our responses. I find that when I shoot from the hip, it is the most insincere place that is riddled with my own self-doubt and insecurities. When I take the time to say a word, I notice that I’m living towards a more healthy self. Architects that use sacred geometry are always intentional with the design, so too should we be intentional with “our invisible art” (our words).
- Being self-aware leads to others’ care.
1 Timothy 4:16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
I try to note the most toxic sides of myself. I have done a lot of self-evaluation over the past three years. Seminary forces that, and helped me realize that I love to be the center of attention. My words often reflect my desire to get others to like me. I also realize that I have tons of insecurities when it comes to my ability to articulate complex thoughts so I usually opt for humor at the expense of others. By being self-aware of my own brokenness, I’m more in tune with the places of brokenness that I often use as a crutch in my speech. When I’m self-aware, I can move from those toxic places and live towards the healthy places of myself. It is within the healthiest places of me that I find my best language. The language that is quick to build others around me rather than to destroy those I encounter.
For those that wants to hear the song by Lupe Fiasco, you can listen here.