Do Words Lose Power With Over or Mis-Use

I’m in a Hilton this week. Return trip to Austin. There I was ready to take an early shower to get to a 7am breakfast meeting.

I’m staring at these bottles. Mega-what??

I choose words carefully. I also choose words that I hope translate well to an international audience. And I wonder, how do these words impact emotions as well as intellect.

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Mega-Rich. Mega -Rich.

I stared. Mega-body? No. Mega-rich body. Then I saw it was a brand name. Mega-rich shampoo.

How many things can be “mega”? Really?

How many of us just read over the words. Are we impacted by that word anymore? It’s just a brand or marketing speak or something.

I wonder the same things when communicating Jesus.

Are what I call the “Christian code words” still powerful?  When we read “sin” do we understand that to which it refers? Or is it just a negative sounding word that means some old lady or old guy is condemning us–sight unseen?

I try to find new ways of expressing the emotion or action that is meant by some of the code words. I’m well aware of the many Christians who listen to a message or song and sub-consciously count the number of code words. If the number hits a threshold, then it is labeled good.

The latest John Fischer podcast conversation featured songwriter / singer Bob Bennett. He was talking about writing songs to reach people who are not followers of Jesus. But that the music publishing houses wanted songs that met the code-word threshold rather than songs of struggle and overcoming.

Bennett said, “It’s like the man who, at a dinner party, reaches over to cut his neighbor’s meat.”

We need to make sure that we are really communicating. Are we over-using words to the point that they lose their appropriate emotional meaning? Are we failing to use words that say what we really mean in a context that can be really heard?

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