As Christians, we believe that in the beginning, when God spoke words, worlds were created. We believe that when the Word was made flesh, a new world was born. Words hold the capacity to create worlds and words hold the capacity to destroy worlds; to affirm and dignify humanity and to destroy and demean humanity.
In public discourse today, it’s not too far of a stretch to suggest that the adjective “civil” has been dropped from our discourse. Instead, we find ourselves inundated with halftruths and misleading truths. We listen to speech that demeans human beings created in the image of God. We hear words that denigrate and objectify women as sexual objects and that separate the world into “winners” and “losers,” “us” versus “them.” With these words being spoken, it is no wonder we find ourselves in the world that we do. Words create worlds and words destroy worlds.
As Christians participating in this discourse, our speech should be filled with truth, not half-truths or falsehoods. We should also speak compassionately, giving the benefit of the doubt to those who disagree with us and recognizing the image of God in the person we are addressing. We should speak beautifully, not using language in a utilitarian way but in ways that evoke God’s kingdom that has drawn near. And we should speak courageously, amplifying the voices of those unheard and challenging the voices that claim ultimate authority.
Words create worlds. May we, as Christians today, speak truthfully, compassionately, beautifully, and courageously, giving witness to the God to whom the whole world belongs.
If we change in the world, we must be the change we desire to see. The commission invites the church to reflect on and discuss “Speaking Christian.”
- Which of these four “speak” words (truthfully, compassionately, beautifully, courageously) especially catches your ear? Why do you think that is?
- How might each of these ways of speaking influence how you speak in a way that reflects Christ?
- Where or with whom do you need to speak more truthfully, compassionately, beautifully, or courageously?
"Speaking Christian" was presented to General Synod 2018, which encouraged congregations to use it "as a tool for discussion and reflection, and to ensure that our speech is gracious, seasoned with salt, and respectful of all we encounter."