Monday, March 04, 2013

Mean what you say

Sometimes I wonder if people really mean what we say. I've had this thought twice now in the last 24 hours. The most recent example was this morning as I took my daughter to school, and was behind a pickup with a growingly popular bumper sticker in Texas. The sticker looks like the Texas flag with the word "Secede" emblazoned on top. Now, at the risk of outing myself and all Texans as blustery giants who are all talk and no action, let me say that I'm sure there are many Texans ready to back up the bumper sticker with a real vote (and action!). They would be ready to recreate the Republic of Texas in a heartbeat. But, I think, most of us--regardless of how we might feel about the federal government or the president, would see the negative realities of secession long before such a vote could be made. If we think that taxes are bad now, how high would they get if we have to provide for our own common defense, build our own highways, create our own free-trade agreements with surrounding states, patrol our own borders and the like? But I'm not here to argue for or against secession, I just wonder if the guy with the bumper sticker really means what he says. Then yesterday morning in church, we sang a song with these lyrics: "Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout your name O Lord." I honestly decided I couldn't sing those words. Because I don't mean them. Forget the fact that my logical brain keeps telling me that we don't really know how to pronounce the tetragrammaton (in Hebrew YHWH, often written in English as "Yahweh"), I'm just not that fond of shouting in general. Shouting names in random moments of worship is frowned upon in our culture, especially in libraries and elevators--don't ask me how I know, those records are sealed. (Okay, so maybe I sing loud in my truck, but that's beside the point here...) So I'm not here to argue against shouting God's name either. Or letting our culture's desire to label religious people as crazy define my behavior. The thought all this prompted in me is that we often say things we don't mean, just for the effect of it. I'm guilty. My guess is you probably are too. And this morning, I pondered the words of Jesus: let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Do I mean what I say? Do my words reflect my character? Are my words and actions in line with each other?

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