If you ever heard the comedian Joan Rivers, you probably heard her catch phrase: “Can we talk?” As she explained how it started, she noted that she was trying to get people to stop talking nonsense about things happening in the world and thus asked her audiences, “Can we talk?” She didn’t realize that she was using that phrase all the time, until audiences began using that line in the kind of dialogue that can only happen between a performer on stage and her/his audience. According to Ms. Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield recognized that she used the phrase much like he used the phrase, “I don’t get no respect.” She tried to stop saying it all the time, but it seemed to be a part of who she was and how people knew her.
We need to revive that phrase in our world, because we seem to have lost the ability to talk to each other. We can make social media posts about other people, we can text them, we can even make and post memes about them, but for some reason. We’ve lost the ability to engage in civil conversation with others. When we do meet face to face, after yelling at them on social media, it gets awkward. Hiding behind the veil of the computer screen, it’s easy to say things to people that we wouldn’t say in person which can lead to those awkward meetings. We’ve changed from talking with people, to talking at them. Paul reminded the Colossians that the tenor of our daily speech as followers of Christ was important as it set the tone for the whole relationship. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6 NIV)
I would guess that people in the early church had to bite their tongues quite a bit. They had to endure ridicule and shame for this crazy belief that they followed that was based on a man coming back from the grave. When you read the story of Paul at the Aereopagus talking with the leaders of Athens, everything was going well until he brought up the idea of the resurrection. That caused the leaders to cut Paul off and mock him. It still causes laughter and derision in our world when you mention that fact. Paul reminded the Colossians that a natural reaction was not appropriate when that happened, instead their speech was to be full of grace, God’s grace. He talked about their speech being seasoned with salt. I don’t know if Paul was reminding them that they might have to eat their words, but I do know that salt was valuable back then and it was used to preserve food. I think Paul was reminding them to make what they said valuable and to use their words to preserve the relationship. The truth is, we can’t share the love and grace of Christ with others if we’ve destroyed the relationship.
These days, we spend so much time talking at each other that we don’t take time to talk with each other and we end up where “What we have is a failure to communicate.” We have changed objectives as Christians and our first priority has become winning the argument. We know what we believe and we ain’t gonna get pushed around on social media and in person. Which gives us pause to think about our calling as followers of Christ, especially in light of this verse. Our call is to lead others into saving, lifechanging faith in Jesus Christ. For those keeping track of things we can do to “get another star in our crowns” let me know if I’m wrong on this, but I’m guessing that winning a social media argument isn’t high on that list. Showing love to others probably would be, giving grace to others rather than jumping on mistakes might be, but winning arguments and debates with non-believers wouldn’t be. Our call is to show others the love and grace of Jesus. Let’s show others His grace in the way we speak with them.
Lord, help me to learn to speak with people in a way that shows Your grace. Remind me of my purpose.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.