“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
‘Actions speak louder than words’. So the saying goes. Or, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me’. Someone once said, ‘Your actions are speaking so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.’ If we say thing like this often enough and loud enough the impression is left that words are not that important.
The Church is also caught up in the problem. We hear the same kinds of comments within Church life. A personal experience with God is more important than doctrine. Faith means one does not need to understand, just believe. But believe what? Faith accepts certain things are mysteries. But what mysteries? Somehow or another we thrive on anti-verbal religion.
Faith, belief and mystery do not mean muddle. They do not imply that the Christian can say anything where God is concerned. For faith words are attached, for us, to what has been revealed and made known about God in Jesus Christ.
At the same time words are fuzzy – all words. We may prefer those who ‘say what they mean and mean what they say’ but that’s just an expression. Communication is not that simple. The basic problem, therefore, is that our words are both important and fuzzy.
Finally, it is important to note that words ARE actions. Try yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded room and you’ll find out quickly that words have real effect. Martin Luther was so convinced that words equal action that he called the church a “mouth house”. For it is through the Church’s words that the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens sanctifies” us in faith.
It may seem odd to us that God would choose words to be the vehicle of the new creation but should it? After all, the old creation, as Genesis tells us, was spoken into existence. If God could use a word to bring something out of nothing, then He can certainly use the spoken word of the Gospel to create the new life of faith.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”