Last Friday I wrote about the need for “simple, solid, wholesome” words that communicate substance instead of aesthetic, profound truth instead of shallow beauty. It occurred to me today what that substance is: myself.
I am an infamous pedant. My friends are too kind to say so, but I find in almost every social situation at least one occasion to share something fascinating from my seemingly immense wealth of trivial information (read sarcastically, please!). Even when I succeed in resisting the urge to lecture, I still make a huge effort to speak more and more artfully, ruthlessly expunging vocal stammers and empty phrases. I’m realizing that whether I am pedantic or articulate, neither way of speaking really shows anyone anything about me, except maybe that I am more interested in showing people how much I know (or how much I’ve read…it’s really the same thing) or how well I can speak.
As I sense the transition from seminary to ministry draw nearer, I am also sensing that my words have to mean more. I cannot speak, counsel, preach or pray without letting others see my self within my words. My words have to show my heart for the people I am speaking to; my language has to reveal my self in concrete ways. However, I am also called not just to speak of myself.
A while ago I referenced Kitamori, and his prayer from Kierkegaard for clearer eyes. About these eyes, Kitamori writes:
These “clear eyes” are demanded from those who witness to the gospel. These eyes are sensitive toward theological issues, inasmuch as theology is a witness to the gospel. Without these eyes, a witness is but a visionary; without this sensitivity, a theologian is but a loquacious man.
I fear that in much of my “theologizing” I have been “but a loquacious man,” in so far as I have been speaking of God and his gracious gestures toward me somewhat flippantly. My speech has served in a real way to elevate my own reputation or image, instead of holding forth Christ. Perhaps this is because I am only just beginning to experience tangibly the immense generosity and hospitality that God has shown me and continues to lavish upon me each new day I wake up to.
Kitamori concludes his Theology of the Pain of God by returning to this prayer:
Those who have beheld the pain of God cease to be loquacious, and open their mouths only by the passion to bear witness to it.
May it be so said of me.
Lord Jesus, Word-made-flesh,
renew my eyes to see your beauty, and shape my tongue accordingly,
so that whenever I speak, people may encounter your real presence in my words.
In your name, Great High Priest, I pray. Amen.