I’ve been a Christian for going on 30 years now, and I learn more every day. If there’s so much more depth for me to learn, how hard is it to understand the message of Jesus for the very first time?
I often say, ‘The gospel is simple’, and it’s true! Christianity is not a philosophy, nor an academic pursuit. Yet, whenever we share the news of Jesus, words are involved. Understanding is part of the process.
How easily will people understand the words I use when I talk about Jesus? Which words are common, which are rare? This is particularly important when in conversation with those who have English as a second language.
How complex would you consider the following to be? It’s a quick and rough explanation of the gospel of Jesus that I just typed up. Please read this and consider how hard it is!
God lovingly created the world, and gave people the responsibility to rule it under him.
We rejected God and cut ourselves off from him. Instead of life, we chose death. Instead of God’s love, we are under his judgement.
Yet God’s love continues! He worked through his people to save the world. The high point of this was in the son of God, Jesus. Jesus died in our place so that we might not die. Jesus rose again, which shows he is the ruler of all things (of the world, of life and death, of us too).
That leaves us with a new opportunity. Instead of continuing to live cut off from God, he invites us back to himself. We accept the gift of forgiveness by trusting Jesus’ death and accepting that Jesus is the ruler.
How difficult is that to read? (Not ‘How right or wrong?’, but ‘How difficult?’)
I took that text and typed it into The up-goer five text editor. This is a fun tool that checks entered text – the idea is to explain any idea using only the 1000 most common English words. It told me I have used non-permitted words. The offending words …
- Rule, ruler
Of course, most English-speakers have a vocabulary that copes with a number of these words. Some words could be replaced with a simpler option. But this illustrates something to keep in mind – our key Christian terms need straightforward explanation.
Since this is so, we need to choose carefully. Many words already need an explanation, so only use the less-common words if they really will help.
In the text above, I avoided the word ‘sin’. Sin is a word poorly-understood, so I try to explain the idea some other way. (And it’s not one of the 1000, either.) On the other hand, the second word is a problem: ‘lovingly’. I included this because I want to say, as early as possible, the God loves!
So what do you think? Let me know if you think the gospel is hard to understand, or easy; if there are words to avoid, or if we should stick to the vocabulary of the Bible.