Missing the Message

Reading Time: 3 minutes
This summer we completed an extended road trip that had us visiting many relatives and friends across a number of states. That required me to book a few hotels. The hotels all seemed to offer chat services to help with booking. One made interaction with a live human almost impossible by steering me into the artificial intelligence of the chat. After an extended exchange with the chat bot, I received this message: "I recognize your words but do not understand your message."

At first I laughed at the insanity of it all. As an attorney, preacher, and author, I take pride in my ability to fashion words for my purposes and the fact that I could baffle a machine pleased me. After a little reflection, however, I grasped something rather profound in the chat exchange. And particularly profound for those of us who proclaim the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God present with us today is not an easy concept to grasp. Except as it manifests in nature, it is largely invisible, at least directly. Nevertheless, we can see it through the actions of others and how we experience it within our own spiritual life. People also find the Kingdom, however, through the words we speak. There is where my chatbot experience finds purchase.

When I write or speak about the Kingdom, I am meticulous as to the words I choose. I try to assure that I am choosing just the right words to convey my intent. My anxiety and focus is on me. Will I do a good job?

The lesson from my robot friend now becomes relevant. Whether or not I have accurately framed the words I intend is not the question. The question is whether they will be just words to readers, or will they hear the message. Have I fashioned the words for myself, or created a message that will reach my audience?

The message that life in the Kingdom of God is available at this place and time is the greatest good news message ever delivered. The Kingdom message is one of grace that welcomes everyone to life with Christ now and forever. The message is simple: no matter what you have done, Jesus will welcome you into the Kingdom by grace and grace alone, and when you surrender your life to him, he will begin the process of changing you into a person who lives in the Kingdom. Signs of God's grace are everywhere and when Christ is at work in you, then you will see and experience them.

The challenge to anyone proclaiming the Kingdom is to clearly express how we see and experience the Kingdom without larding the message with do's and don'ts that transform the message into recognized words only. Tell others about how you experience Christ in your life. Tell others about how you see Christ in those around you. And look for them in the small things of everyday life. You will find the richness of the Kingdom there.

Jesus commanded us to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel. The world teems with different languages and words. To proclaim the Good News, we must uses words to craft a message the audience understands, not just words in their language, but a message that reaches their hearts. For me, in proclaiming Christ and his Kingdom I hope to never hear, "I recognize your words but do not understand your message."

© 2023, Thomas Trezise

1 Comment

Don Stephens - December 7th, 2023 at 4:55am

Boom!! A clear, insightful challenge, Tom! Thanks!

We definitely need to be wise with our words, and yet never lose sight of the fact that many missed even the words of Jesus. May our friends and the world itself have "ears to hear."