blah blah blah

Christians do a lot of talking. And I should talk - I’m a pastor! Believing we represent God to the world, it’s our task to communicate God’s vision for the world. Sadly, we also think communicating alone is enough. The quantity of our words (or the volume!) take precedence over the quality. Somehow it’s assumed that if only there would be more Christians in the public sphere of influence the world would be a better place. Yet religious rants on culture, politics, and morality only serve to distance much of Western culture from a perceived irrelevant Christianity. Our words fall on deaf ears. Or if heard, they are simply a resounding “blah, blah, blah” in the ears of those listening. Relevance as Christians is hard to come by (some may even say impossible).

Unfortunately, the “blah blah blah” of modern Christian communication and engagement with culture can sometimes only serve to further the problem. We try harder. We want to be “cool” or “hip”. Hence the desire to be relevant and contemporary - “Contemporvant” (I can’t pass up another opportunity to show this video clip!):

But is cultural relevance enough to change the perception of Christianity? And is relevance really an admirable goal in and of itself?

I actually got thinking about all this when I recently read this Old Testament verse discussing the ill-received message of the prophets:

For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there (Is. 28:10 NIV)

It’s the NIV footnote that really got me thinking: “Hebrew / sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav (probably meaningless sounds mimicking the prophet’s words).”

Hmm... Sounds a lot like “blah blah blah” to me. I’ll admit, that’s the last thing I want to hear for a summary of one of my sermons, let me tell you! Yet the prophets didn’t seek relevance first. Their message wasn’t accepted by many. Most of the time, in fact, they were culturally irrelevant.

But their irrelevance wasn’t because they blathered on with their own version of truth or cultural commentary. Their words were the “word of the Lord” even in the face of criticism and rejection from the “scoffers” (Is. 28:14).

In some ways, the Christian message will always be “blah blah blah” to some - “foolishness” as Paul reminds (1 Cor. 1:23). Yet too often “the word of the Lord” becomes our word, with any connection to “of the Lord” barely recognizable biblically. Yet we assume our word is God’s word. Incorrect stereotypes are the sad result. Much of Christian talk today is far from the integrity the prophets exhibit. It's "blah blah blah" for all the wrong reasons.

All this said, if we’re realistic, Christians likely won’t be able to avoid cultural irrelevance to some degree. No matter how our message is packaged, there will always be scoffers. “Blah blah blah” is inevitable. But like the prophets, I think we can try a little harder to make sure our “blah blah blah” is actually the right one - “the word of the Lord.”


Joshua said...

That's a really funny video. And I didn't know the Hebrew for the Isaiah passage--blah blah blah indeed!

David Warkentin said...

Hi Joshua,

Yeah, I can't count how many times I keep coming back to that video anytime I reflect on my attempts to be relevant.

And it's too bad our English translations don't pick up the Hebrew of this passage - it adds a lot. I just checked, Eugene Peterson actually translates it "blah blah blah." Funny!

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