There are a couple of words that have lost their meaning to me.
Christian. Faith. Love.
Christian is such a vague term. The West is Christian. United Church folks who don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God are Christian. I think something like 60% of Americans would label themselves Christian, according to the polls a few years back. It’s become meaningless. But ask people if they are a “Christ Follower,” and you have a real discussion on your hands. Am I a Christian? Well, that depends what you mean. I’m a Christ follower. I’ve put my faith in him and I’ve put my faith where my mouth is. If that makes me one, then sure.
Faith is another word that can mean anything from slushy sentimentality toward anything you choose on one hand and fundamentalist bigotry on the other. Yuck. “I believe” means almost nothing these days. What God is looking for is so much more than emotion, more than mindful assent, more even than obedience. True faith is a deep knowing that transcends those things and yet must express itself through all three. When I say I believe something, there is no word in the English language that can capture the depth of what I’m trying to say. Maybe I’ll invent a word that does the trick.
Love. Our society has butchered that one, but we all help. I love pizza. I love a cool breeze and a BBQ with friends. And I love my wife. See? It’s too broad. I treasure my wife. I adore my wife. There, that gets closer.
I think we owe the special things and people and moments in our lives the dignity of choosing our words carefully and reserving some of them for only the most precious occasions.