Words Mean Things

Have you lost a game of trivia because the question specified tallest mountain in the world, instead of highest mountain? I’ve been there, and although it seems like a simple matter of semantics, the reality is that words do have defined meanings. Post modernist like to insist that we give words meaning, and to an extent that is true, at least in as far as words often have a culture meaning or connotation that can be transferred into it’s denotation (definition). That said, we cannot hope to communicate in any meaningful way if we go around changing the meaning of words at will, and demanding that others do the same. Eventually, I could ask you, what does a dog say, and you could rightly reply “Moo”.

This matters in all areas of our lives, but one of the most important areas is our faith, which brings me to my point. I have heard Christians use words from other religions as though they had a Christian origin or meaning. In fact, as it is around Christmas time I’d like to point out one example, and go from there. The lyrics go as follows- So, through the years we all will be together if the fates allow. The fates are noted as mythological beings in ancient Greek lore, yet many a Christian has sung this song without any attention paid to the significance of what they are singing. Further, I’ve even heard some of my fellow Christians speak of a meeting with someone being fate.

One might say, that I am taking things overboard, but consider how pervasive it’s become in Christian vernacular.

Have you commented on how lucky you were in a particular situation? Or perhaps you’ve heard someone suggest that a persons situation is due to karma.

Our beliefs are being assaulted daily by our culture. But the siege is a silent seemingly harmless stream of value alteration. Think of how different it is to say that we are blessed versus saying that we are lucky. The first points to God as the source of our positive outcome, whereas the second points to a lifeless void. God we can trust to be good and faithful to His people, and void cares for no one, because a void is cold and uncaring. It’s the same when we consider fate (or kismet or destiny or serendipity, or chance, fortune) versus God’s providence. If God is directing our future then we have hope. If it is left to chance or fate, then we have no real reason to hope the the future will be good or positive at all.

Our language effects our outlook on the world. Does our language point us to God in Christ, or to a cold unfeeling world, or else to some other deity. Of course, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, but perhaps it is enough to make us all think a bit more about the words we use. After all words mean things.

Have a blessed week, and look out for the next reflection coming next Saturday.