In a recent column in The Washington Post, Michael Gerson makes reference to “the moral vocabulary of a previous era.” He refers to phrases such as “a consciousness of sin” and “a real determination to reach holiness.” Then he observes: “When said in public, terms such as ‘sin’ and ‘holiness’ have the power to shock, like the choicer curse words once did.”
Reading that is a reminder to me of how much power is inherent in the words of our faith, words that we too often cast aside in our hunger for relevance and contemporaneity. Hard words such as sin, judgment, submission. Healing words such as redemption, grace, salvation.
I’m not suggesting we litter our speech with complex theological jargon, tossed out without explanation. However, I am reminded the words of Scripture carry within them a power that goes beyond my feeble communication skills—and, sorry, yours as well.
As we preach, let’s trust in the power of those rich biblical words, the ideas they represent, and the God who inspired them.