When my wife and I watch tv, it’s usually a British “who-done-it” show. We like the accents and the similar but different cultures; it doesn’t hurt that they rarely surprise us. One of the side-effects from these shows has been our adoption of British colloquialisms such as “give it a go,” knackered, cuppa, and so forth. It’s just a bit of fun we’ve added to our lives together.
This challenge of language is brought up in John 16:25-29, which reads:
“Though I [Jesus] have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
As Christians, we have our own colloquialisms. People are “called to repentance”, they “get saved”, they are called to “righteousness”, they are “justified”, they are “filled with the Holy Spirit”, and are “seated with Christ”. The list goes on.
These phrases and colloquialisms can be off-putting to unchurched friends and family simply because our words make no sense to them, or they incorrectly interpret our words.
Now, as you know, the key to all evangelism is to use common vernacular to tell people what God has done for you and then asking them if they want what you have. From there, the Holy Spirit will guide and do the conviction within the unsaved people that are willing. It’s the “getting them to listen” that can be difficult.
It’s good for every Christian to know how to lead a person to salvation. Biblegateway.com has a simple example of the “Roman Road” here. The “Roman Road” approach has been very effective for leading people to Jesus.
But what about the people that have been “vaccinated?” Many people grew up in churches and/or Christian families. They know all the Christian words and colloquialisms so well that those mean nothing to them. They have been immunized against salvation.
Immunized people demands us to be especially in tune with the Holy Spirit. He will guide our conversation to an aspect in the lost person’s life that is an emotional wound or is tender. That tender spot is there for us to break through their callousness. It’s fascinating and humbling when Jesus uses us in this way.
I’ll close with a real-world example.
I used to attend a small church located on the edge of a small town that had a very small congregation, but they were very much alive. One of the members of the church was a lady that had immigrated to America from France. She had a thick French accent.
A young person of the church invited a friend from his high school to visit the church; the visitor went by the name Dougie. When he was introduced to the French lady, her pronunciation of Dougie came out Druggie. In fact, he was a drug dealer in his high school but no one in the church knew that.
Over the course of two or three visits, “Druggie” broke down, asked her how she knew he was a drug dealer, repented, was counseled and was saved. God knows how to save people; we just need to “give it a go.”