the language gap
Yesterday I had one of the coolest experiences of my life: I got to work with a video team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new healthcare law. Basically, I just shared my story about how I needed healthcare and was able to get it through the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). They wanted an ordinary, unemployed 23-year-old like me to share the good news that quality health insurance is now obtainable on anyone’s salary. It was my honor to do so.
At one point in the interview, the producer asked me a question that I wasn’t prepared for. “Molly, I saw on your blog that you self-identify as a Christian,” he said. “Can you tell us a little bit about your faith and how that has impacted your views on healthcare?”
I was thrilled that they were giving me an opportunity to say the name of Jesus on a nationally broadcast video clip. Was I prepared for it? No.
I mumbled out a few words about how “my relationship with Jesus” is very important to me, and how caring for the least of these is important–and how covering contraception as part of the ACA will help reduce the number of abortions… but it was easily the most bumpy, least-rehearsed portion of my interview. I felt completely incompetent to answer that question, even though it should have been the most important question to me of the whole interview.
1 Peter 3:15 says in the NIV version: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Jesus had handed me a golden opportunity on a silver platter to share my hope, and I had been altogether unprepared to talk about it. I felt like I had miserably fallen short of that verse. As the day continued and I had moments for reflection, I asked Jesus why, when I can be so passionate about Him in some contexts, I struggled so profusely to find words about Him in others. There is certainly no lack of things that Jesus has done for me. Why was my word bank starkly empty on this topic?
The Holy Spirit directed my memory back to something that my previous Worship Pastor, Sharon Clements, had said at a retreat that I went to earlier this year. She said, “Unless we articulate what has happened within us, the world will never be changed.” I suddenly realized the importance of words in that equation: Jesus has done immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine for those of us who are His sons and daughters. The world is desperate for hope. Our actions, and sometimes more importantly, our words, are the link between the two. Language is what alerts the world to the possibility of total salvation and a life redeemed and whole.
I repented in my heart in that moment for not being more vocal about my Savior–and for the larger pattern in my life of not articulating the beautiful things that Christ is doing in my life. Jesus met me in His grace, not only with forgiveness, but with a second chance.
One of the members on the video team opened up to me later in the day about their own faith–a religion and story much different than mine. I got to listen with an open mind and open heart, then respond to their questions with words of humility and favor straight from the Holy Spirit. I shared my story about how an ordinary person like me was in desperate need of rescuing, and that my cry was answered by Jesus. I couldn’t believe the way I was getting to communicate about Him! He sounded lovely from the words coming out of my mouth. He sounded like himself. I fell more in love with Jesus because I was able to talk about who He was. I hope that the same is true for the other who got to hear of Him as well.
The truth for the day for me was two-fold: one, when we articulate our knowledge and experience of Christ to the world, the world is changed. Two–when we are familiar in our speech about Jesus, our OWN hearts become more familiar about Him, too.
The government wanted me to share my story because I was an ordinary person affected by change. How much more should we preach to the world, friends, the story of change that has happened in our lives on an eternal scale? Let’s be fluent with the story of Jesus today.
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