Chipping Away at the Image in Us
Epithets can chip away at the image of God in us. Name-calling and identity theft are felonious offenses against divinity and humanity. Blasphemy. Those of us who have been victims of identity theft or have been disfigured by name-calling dare not engage in such nefarious activity. We too will be blameworthy whether the offense is committed in our hearts, spoken with our mouths, or written with our hands.
This makes sense of why Jesus told his audience that anyone who labeled another person “Raca,” or fool, was in danger of the fires of hell (Matt. 5:22). In the end, only God can identify a person’s condition and make a righteous judgment. God knows our names and uses his beloved community to help form our God-given identities. But in our twisted state, in our malformation, we would rather choose our own names and also mistakenly believe we can accurately name others. We strut about as if we are God.
The Cursed Lawnmower
One day a pastor went to a yard sale and found a lawn mower. It seemed in decent-enough shape and the owner said it worked, so the pastor ultimately decided to buy it, and not for very much either. After a quick review of the machine, the pastor filled it with gas and was ready to take it on its maiden voyage. Unfortunately, after a few pumps on the fuel line and a pull of the cord, nothing happened. The pastor pulled a few more times and finally gave up. Thankfully, the yard sale was still happening and the pastor, now quite exasperated, asked for his money back. “This machine doesn’t work!”
“Well,” the man said, “I did forget to tell you one thing about this lawnmower—it only works if you curse at it.
“Curse at it,” the pastor said, “I can’t do that!” I’m a man of the cloth. I don’t even know if I can curse anymore. It’s been so long.”
The man smiled and said, “just keep pulling that rope pastor. It’ll come back to you.”
Original Source Unknown, Stuart Strachan Jr.
None of Your D**N Business
My wife and I don’t cuss—we were taught not to—-and we taught our children not to. Unfortunately, we taught them by never using cuss words. This more went without being said—literally. While we were missionaries in a remote place in Indonesia, the only people our children knew who spoke English were my wife and me…
When our elder son was five years old, an older, very proper, hair-in-a-bun missionary came to visit us. We introduced our son, who very politely said, “Very nice to meet you. After she commented on how handsome he was, Josh asked his mom, “May I go outside to play?” The missionary asked him, “Where are you going?” Our little angel smiled up at her and said, “None of your d**n business.
Our chins hit the floor. We had never heard him say that word before (or since). The completely shocked look on all our faces told a five-year-old that this was unacceptable. His mom sputtered, “Josh!” before we could say another word, he started crying and ran from the room…When he left, we were in an awkward spot with a missionary leader we had just met. We didn’t even have the luxury of shaking our heads and saying, “The things they learn from their friends!” All of his friends spoke Manadonese.
…We spent weeks wondering how our son could have learned a word he didn’t hear us use. Later we were rewatching a movie— there was no English television but we did have videos—and we heard the line, “Where are you going?” to which the hero replied with the now infamous line. Our son had used it exactly like he heard it. Our son had picked up a turn of phrase by watching a movie, which is one way culture is transmitted. My wife and I had passed along a cultural value by our response that such language is inappropriate, which is another way culture is transmitted.
Taken from Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien Copyright (c) 2012 by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
What Did the Turkey Say
A Christian lady wanted a parrot that could talk. She looked in several shops before finding one. The owner told her, however, that the parrot had been previously owned by a bartender and though he could say anything, he also on occasion used profanity. She told him she would buy him anyway and teach him to say good things.
Everything went well for about a month.
He learned to say ‘Praise the Lord’ and a number of other Christian words and phrases. One day she forgot to feed him and when she came into the house she heard him cursing.
She grabbed him up and said, ‘I told you not to talk that way. I’ll teach you never to do it again.’
So she put him in the deep freeze and shut the door. A few minutes later she took him out and asked, ‘Have you learned your lesson?’ The bird shivered and replied, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ She asked, ‘Are you going to talk that way anymore?’ The parrot replied, ‘No, ma am.’
About seven months went by and not a bit of bad language. Apparently the bird was cured of his rascally habits. Then one day she forgot to feed him, water him, or change his cage. When she returned home that day he was carrying on worse than ever. She grabbed him and put him back in the freezer but forgot him for some time. He was almost frozen to death when she thought of him.
She put him in his cage to thaw out. Finally he began to move and talk a little and she asked him again, ‘Did you learn your lesson?’ ‘Yes, ma’am,’ he retorted. Then he sat there quietly for a few more minutes shivering and said, ‘Can I ask you a question?’ She answered, ‘Yes.’ The parrot said, ‘I thought I knew all the bad words there were, but just what did that turkey in there say?’
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p. 310.