Jesus (Luke 6:45): “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Our words are an accurate measurement of the value of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our words reveal if Christ Jesus is “first love” or something less. If Jesus is first love, we will speak Jesus primarily. (“Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”) If money is first love we will speak money primarily. If family is first love we will speak family primarily. And if church-ianity is first love we will speak church primarily.
We know what’s in by what comes out. We can determine the worth of our relationship with Jesus by simply monitoring our own speech. How often do we speak the name of Jesus?
Likewise we can know the value of relationship between others and Lord Jesus by simply listening. It seems some (many, most?) evangelicals can go months without mentioning His name in conversation. How often have you heard His name mentioned in a crowded restaurant?
Likewise we can know the value of relationship between an entire congregation and Lord Jesus by their cumulative words. It really is simple.
I once did a study of what I supposed were the five largest evangelical churches in my city of Kelowna, BC, Canada (including a baptist church, a pentecostal, a charismatic, a non-denominational and a mennonite). I randomly chose three messages from each church, a total of fifteen, from principle speakers. (There is no reason to think that Kelowna is spiritually sub-par to other north american cities.)
I was interested in three words from these pulpit-people: GOD, JESUS, and CHURCH. So I listened (on the internet) and counted. I compared their speech with that of the New Testament. Keep in mind I wanted to confirm what I seriously suspected: these men were more church-centred (man-centred, ‘us’-centred) than they were Christ-centred.
First, the New Testament (not including the gospels)….
God: 1171 Jesus: 1422 Church:108
Next the total of the five churches….
God: 646 Jesus: 199 Church: 269
Now I could (and you can) compare the ratio written/spoken by both the New Testament writers and the pulpit-people.
As you can see, for every time New Testament writers mentioned CHURCH, they mentioned CHRIST 13 times. Since “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” we know this is God’s will and heart.Yes, CHURCH is important, but isn’t CHRIST at least 13 times more important?
The speech of the Kelowna churches was quite opposite; to every time they spoke JESUS, they spoke CHURCH almost 1 1/2 times. Can it be said of evangelicalism CHRIST is important but CHURCH is 1 1/2 times more important?
Please note that the New Testament writers mentioned JESUS more than GOD. However the church pastors spoke GOD more than 3 times as often as JESUS. What is the significance of this disparity?
I once wrote: “The news media speak ‘God’. The religious speak ‘God’. Politicians speak ‘God’. But christians ought to speak ‘Christ’…. primarily. That’s the will of God. Evangelicals speak differently then Paul, for example, because they are different. Typical evangelical has Paul’s passion minus 75%…. and minus 75% his commitment…. and at least 75% more distractions.”
The next chapter I will concentrate on why evangelicals and other religionists rarely speak the name of Jesus….