Small Talk [2]

This post is sorta already made in the meta of part 1 (or maybe part 1.5), but here's what I'm thinking: does my mechanic ever say to me, "you should repent of missing your oil changes"? Or does your spouse ever say to you, "if you don't repent of your lousy attitude toward housekeeping, I'm going to stop helping with the laundry"? How about a police officer who gives you a warning instead of a ticket -- does here ever tell you, "you need to repent of driving too fast"?

My opinion -- and I use that word to qualify this post strictly -- is that "repent" became a Christian idiom, removed from normal conversation, some time in the late 19th century, but Christians -- being as in-touch with the culture as we are (cf. CCM, ECPA, CBA) -- didn't realize that people don't say "repent" to each other under any circumstances except during moments of extreme evangelism. So "repent" doesn't mean "turn away from sin and toward God by means of thought and action immediately" anymore: it means, "I'm going to use a King James word on you because that's how I think about this stuff -- it's ancient truth, and if you don't know what it means that's your fault."

Now, listen: plenty of people "get saved" by people giving them the perrenial "repent-and-believe", with "repent" meaning "pray a prayer" and "believe" meaning "WWJD bracelet - check!" So that's bad, right? And plenty of people have received the "wrath of God is upon you, so save yourself from this crooked generation" by hearing the word "repent" come from their "friendly" (Pro 27:6) neighborhood evangelist. So that's good, right? So what's at stake is really what people mean by "repent", isn't it?

Well, yes. In fact, this is what is at stake. What is at stake is if we are delivering the Gospel, no? So whether we use the word "repent" or the word "justification" or the words "penal substitutionary atonement" or the word "Christ" -- which will be the real rub for some people, certain to create its own pocket controversy in this hoopla -- is not half as important as making sure that when we say something to people about this, we are saying "turn away from your breaking of God's Law" and "be right with God by the means He has established" and "through the death of Jesus, which pays the price for our sins in a way which we could never pay ourselves" and "this Jesus who is the only son of God, and who was both wholly man and wholly God, whom God had planned from before there was even time to sacrifice for the sins of men".

Seriously: the small talk is good -- when I talk to other Christians, it's good to have a guild language we can use because the rest of that stuff is a mouthful. But should we talk to people who need this stuff but don't have it in the way l33t speak to n00bs -- that is, as if they should just get up to speed? It's good -- enriching, edifying, useful, and need I say God inspired -- to have words like "repent" and "justified". But you know something? I was a Christian a long time before those words were anything but buzzwords to me.

We have to speak to people about this stuff the way my doctor talks to me about being fat: clearly, and without the extensive human biology class or the first-year med-school vocabulary. People need to know that they have a problem to which only Jesus is the solution. They shouldn't think of Jesus and what He has done and is doing right now as religious artichocosis -- they should think of Him as the only one who saves men from their sins.

And how can they hear that unless someone tells them?

UPDATED: This is what I'm talking about.