Monday, December 29, 2014

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

This past Sunday I left church feeling out of sync.  We had a guest preacher and while I appreciated the basic admonition that was communicated I found myself disagreeing with the supporting declarations.  I believe the sermon’s objective was sincere:  to illustrate the disparity between the value we place on God’s Word vs. all other forms of media input (cell phones, email, Internet, books, TV, film, magazines, blogs, etc.).  However, several times during the sermon some proclamations were made that rendered me conflicted and unsettled.

One such declaration was that words do not have the power to bring life, unless it is the word of God (aka scripture).  Even the word of God disproves that thesis.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NIV)

I don’t think that acknowledging the power in words diminishes the supremacy of God’s word.  His word spoke worlds into being.  But I don’t want to ever underestimate the weight of every other word.  It would be irresponsible… dangerous… toxic even… to deny its influence on the world and people around me.

I leave you with some of the best quotes I’ve found on the power of words:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”

“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood but the mouth of the upright delivers them.”
-Proverbs 12:6 (ESV)

“Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more... I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead.”

Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”

“He was intrigued by the power of words, not the literary words that filled the books in the library but the sharp, staccato words that went into the writing of news stories. Words that went for the jugular. Active verbs that danced and raced on the page.”

“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

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