A shaggy, old inmate sat up in his bunk and yelled, “Hey, boys, number 29!”
The other inmates all roared hysterically.
A new-coming inmate could not understand what was so funny. After a few guys yelled out other numbers and everyone laughed, he asked someone to tell him what was going on.
One guy handed him a tattered old joke book. “Here,” he said, “read this. We’ve all memorized it. If you want to tell a joke, just call out the number.”
The new guy started flipping through the book and died laughing at one entry. “Hey guys, number 45!”
No body laughed. The new guy looked around, “Don’t you guys know this one? It’s really funny.”
The shaggy, old inmate shook his head. “Some of us just know how to tell them.”
Do we codify Christianity?
The thing we must remember about our faith is that we constantly have newcomers. Sometimes we become like those crusty old inmates who all know the code and newbies struggle to figure us out. Apostolics talk a bunch of jargon with terms like “Pentecost, redemption, sanctification,” and code words like “Acts 2:38, Colossians 2:9, and Deuteronomy 6:4.” New believers often feel uncomfortable among us, trying to understand all the lingo.
Daniel Segraves tells about taking a tour of the prayer house on Bonny Brae Street. The guide said, “Three people were slain in this room.” A newcomer to our faith would think the guide was talking about murder. Those educated in Pentecostese would say, “Praise God!” that someone was so overwhelmed with the Spirit that they fell over.
Follow the leading of Jesus
Our Lord made the faith so understandable, kids wanted to crawl into His lap. His stories were easy enough for any hungry soul to come to understand the deepest truths of the Kingdom. When we speak to the lost and new believers, we need to screen our lingo to see if we are really connecting with them where they live.
The Apostle Paul spoke to the people of Athens by addressing what they did know and bringing them to understand what they did not. This same principle works well today: bring people from known to unknown. If all our conversations stay in the unknown, new believers will forever stay in a fog until they learn the Book. One day, they will be in the knowing crowd, quoting out their favorites by number. Then, we will have to teach them to make it understandable for others as well.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
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