“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him… (Luke 8:1).”
The older I get, I note how simple we are becoming in trying to simplify our language. We shorten words and use phrases instead of sentences to convey meaning now.
We also use a lot of slang. Even television news announcers are doing so now.
While musing on this, I was trying to determine why our societiy has gone to such simple forms of expression. I was wondering if the use of this kind of simple language was due to laziness, information overload, or lack of time.
The philosopher, author and poet G.K. Chesterton has enlightened me on this subject. He wrote a couple pertinent things worthy of reflection:
1)”The simplification of anything is always sensational.”
2) “All slang is a metaphor and all metaphor is poetry.”
I suppose Chesterton believes that simplicity in language is creative. I can understand now that it can be a positive, especially in exciting the imagination.
This week I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles on a matter. As I stood in line, I looked at the designer license plates available.
Many of them contained pithy statements in support of one thing or another. The one that caught my eye was a yellow plate with two cartoon-like children with a message in crayon.
It read: “Choose Life”.
I was immediately grasped my emotion. I thought of a recent episode in which I told someone to do just that.
I thought of my own kids. In addition, I thought of the terrible state of the unborn in this world, something which is more and more being swept under the rug and ignored.
The phrase “Choose Life” has a long history. The people of ancient Israel were once exhorted to choose life by a leader named Joshua.
He stood before the head honchos of the Israelites and gave them a little history lesson as to why they should do so. His story, documented in Joshua Chapter 24, primarily concerned the faithfulness of God toward them.
Joshua recounted the travels and victories of the Israelite people. He began with how God had taken Abraham away from the polytheism surrounding his relatives and sent him to what is now Palestine.
When Abraham’s descendants were in threat of extinction, God moved them to Egypt, where they at first flourished, but then were enslaved. Using His man Moses, God transported the people back to Palestine with many wonders of deliverance.
However, the people had to fight for their new homes. Joshua told the Israelite leaders that God wanted them to know that they had very little to do with the state of success they now enjoyed:
“I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.” (Johua 24:12,13).”
The Israelites were at a crossroads. They were beginning a new life that God had provided for them in a new place.
Knowing their proclivity to worship other things and beings besides God, Joshua challenged the Israelites:
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-16).
In essence, Joshua used some simple language to communicate to the Israelites where they were. His messages within the message would look on license plates:
After presenting the Israelites with their choice of vanity tags, Joshua seemed to pull a typical stunt meant to challenge them even further. He told them in so many words,”Naah, you can’t do it. The results could be a disaster.”
Joshua would have made a great football coach. He was appealing to the Israelites’s sense of self esteem.
Joshua’s ploy worked. The people promised to serve the Lord. (See Joshua 24:16-28).
Serving God is a fearful thing. I think the Israelites knew it from their previous experiences with following the Lord.
As believers in Christ today, we also have experiences that make us wonder if we are really choosing life when we agree to hang on to God. It seems that having made that choice, we are then faced with difficulties and all-the-time.
This should come as no surprise. My latest fad philosopher, Mr. G.K. Chesterton wrote:
“Jesus promised his disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”
I have an immediate application to the story of Joshua and the choice made by the Israelites as they settled in their new land. I too am ready to move to another country and live there.
As I am going without much of a support network, I could easily choose to not serve the Lord. However, that vanity plate I saw at the DMV is a constant reminder to me to “Choose Life”.
In choosing to serve the Lord overseas, I will not be alone. It will be me and Jesus on that plane and in my new town.
If I had the discretionary cash, I think I would go back to the DMV and buy that plate as a kind of symbolic gesture of my own choice. After all, the Israelites set up a marker to help them recall their own decision.
I suppose a keyring or some other cheap remembrance will have to do. Perhaps I could just have a T-shirt made with the following quote from Mr. Chesterton: