Wednesday, July 20, 2016

It started with language

I noted last week that, when I became a Christian my senior year in college, I noticed almost immediately that things seemed different. I couldn’t explain exactly what was different, but I knew deep within my soul that something profound had happened and something fundamental had changed.

One of the first things I do remember was sensitivity to spoken language: the kind of language I was used to hearing and the kind of language I was used to using myself. It was more than profanity, as obvious as that could be. It was also the cynicism, the sneering, the sardonic remarks, the desire to be thought deep and smart.

I became sensitive, almost overly sensitive, to language – what was coming out of my mouth and what was coming out of others’ mouths. What began as awareness gradually became something hurtful to my ears. And while I knew I was forgiven, and would go on being forgiven, my attitudes were changing.

Once I started my professional career, this sensitivity to language grew. I was not someone who wore his faith on his sleeve – I didn’t afflict co-workers with tracts or mini-sermons. But somehow people knew. For a long time, from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, people would apologize for using bad language in my presence, or a raunchy joke would stop if I walked into a meeting room. (I should say that the culture has changed enormously since around 2004 – and nothing was sufficient to stop the common use of profanity in the workplace.)

But this “something different” inside of me was limited to language. Slowly it began to changes actions – things I did or didn’t do. It affected choices I made. It changed how I treated people. And, in the workplace, it made me extraordinarily aware of injustice, people being treated badly, people being used and disregarded. The more I heard about the importance of people, the more I saw just the opposite happening.

In The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges says that “…our sin is a burden that afflicts us rather than a pleasure that delights us.” That is exactly what started after I became a Christian. Things changed. Things inside me changed. I more and more recognized things about myself that I had taken for granted or never even considered. And slowly, I began to change.

You don’t reach an end-point here. This process never stops.

But I can say that the sensitivity becomes more acute.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. To see what others had to say on this chapter, “We Died to Sin,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.

Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Martha Jane Orlando said...

This was definitely a sensitivity I felt within myself, too, Glynn, once I came to Christ. He truly changes us from the inside out.

jasonS said...

This is so true. I highlighted the same quote. This is why I find it difficult to believe any longer that too much grace leads to wild, unchecked lifestyle. More grace gives us a deeper desire for Him, His love, His holiness. It is a burden to sin because it's hurtful to Him and we know it's hurtful to us as well. Thanks Glynn. Great perspective.