Skip to main content

Clear: How I ought to speak


Just struck by this phrase in Paul to the Colossians - "as I ought to speak." In a passage full of surprises (Col. 2:2-4) he asks for prayer, above all things, to be clear in his preaching. And then he adds that phrase "as I ought" or "as I must" or "as it behoves me". He's not being clear because it is the most effective form of communication (though it is) or because clarity is extremely powerful and compelling (though it is) or because he doesn't have lots of long words and rhetorical skill (he does). He must be clear. Why? 
  1. Because this is not about Paul, this is about God. He has been entrusted with the gospel and his job is just to be a faithful minister of that gospel (Col. 1:23-25); to be a faithful messenger, handing on the message without distortion. He must give people the Word not himself. The pure Word.
  2. Because this is a message for hearts and minds. This is truth to understand and absorb and digest (Col. 1:5). There must be knowledge for there to be life change (Col. 1:9-10). That will require the Spirit’s work but it also demands clarity. It is not, as in some other religions, enough to hear and accept and recite words mindlessly – there must be understanding, learning.
  3. Because this is a message for all the world, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, men and women, children and elders. The aim is that all would understand for themselves the truth that sets them free, that all would learn Christ and the fullness in him. There must be no cultural obstacle, no long word to stumble a little one. There must be clarity.
  4. Because the gospel is clear. It is not a message of grey areas and blurred lines and playful ambiguity. There are sharp edges, hard truths, dividing lines. There is heaven and hell, truth and lies, the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, alienation and reconciliation (Col. 1:5, 12-13, 21). We might instinctively seek to hide in vagueness but the gospel demands loving clarity.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with the Song of Songs?

There seem to be two extreme positions on interpreting the Song of Songs in our context – either it’s purely about Christ and the Church, or it is purely about human relationships. And the second of these seems to be much more common. And perhaps more common than either is a reluctance to even attempt to preach from the book. And then the other day I was reading a Christian book on marriage when the author suddenly felt the need to argue strongly at some length against the idea that the Song of Songs can be interpreted allegorically of Christ and the Church. So maybe it’s worth going through the key arguments the author made there against what is the traditional interpretation through church history that the Song is primarily to be taken as referring to the relationship between Christ and the Church. 1. The topic of the Song of Songs is obviously sex. Solomon is plainly writing about human, romantic relationships. That is his theme. Not Christ and the Church. In answer: That’s

Psalm 119 podcast: mouthfuls of Bible delight

Christopher Ash's Bible Delight is a wonderfully rich, pastorally sensitive exposition of Psalm 119. Taking a section at a time he slows us down to hear the music of grace in the background of what at first listen might sound strident; slows us down to dig up beautiful gems in apparently unpromising ground; slows us down to take in the nuances and carefulness of what might at first sight seem thrown together. If you haven't got a copy, check it out - it'll do your soul good.  I recently read through Bible Delight a second (or maybe third) time and did a series of 22 little audios for my church small group. In this strange lockdown time many of us have been finding it hard to concentrate, hard to read more than a sentence, hard to pray. So this was intended as bitesize encouragement a few times a week. The format is simple: I read the section of Psalm 119 (almost always using Christopher Ash's own translation of the Hebrew); spend two or three minutes going through the

Full/part-time paid/voluntary set-apart gospel ministry? Trying to find the best language for raising up the next generation of…

A lot of people recognise that Jesus’ words about the workers being few (Mark 9:37) are as true today as it was in the first century. I was recently standing in the garden of a friend, who’s the vicar of a rural parish, and he pointed north, south, east and west to neighbouring parishes where there were congregations without any meaningful pastoral oversight. And that’s just maintenance. If we’re talking about really getting into the unreached parts of the field and harvesting those outside the church then it’s going to need a lot more workers. If churches are going to be planted in significant numbers and at a significant pace across the UK then we’ll need hundreds more church planters in the next couple of decades. But as soon as we start talking about raising up workers for the harvest field we run into difficulties finding the most helpful language to use.       ‘Christian ministry’ or simply ‘the ministry’ has a long history of use as shorthand for ordained ministry but