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World War of Words, Part 1

September 24, 2009


I’ve always been a stickler for words.

Even though my mouth seems to run like a gushing fire hydrant. Much to my dismay, language is typically my greatest strength AND my greatest weakness. So I’ve learned the hard way to choose my words wisely. To say things carefully. To think before I speak, not speak before I think.

Words matter. They bring life, they bring destruction. They influence people and situations.

Today some of the most popular ways to greet somebody and meet somebody are by asking first “How are you?” and then “What do you do?”. These questions seem harmless and normal at the surface. But at the root, they are philosophically aiming the focus of the meeting to less significant things and more transient things.

I believe that because of the day in age we live in, all people struggle with one primary issue: selfishness exhibited through self-indulgence, self-preservation, self-exaltation, self-help, self-seeking, and so on and so on. And the world we live in puts the focus on a person’s condition and feelings and a person’s career path.

This is evidenced by the two above questions:

  1. How are you? – the focus is on the well being of the person, specifically the feelings of that person at that moment in time. For example, “How are you doing?”.
  2. What do you do? – the focus is on what the person does for a living, their career path or choice of success and income. For example, “What do you do for a living?”.

The reason I think these two questions are significant is because they lead the meeting down a certain path.  A path that tends towards temporary and unimportant matters. Surely these questions are not evil by any means. And there are many times when asking these questions is not only perfectly fine but appropriate. However they point the asker and the askee towards a typical worldly focus of conversing and living. That of feelings and work.

Simply put, I think the more appropriate and eternal question would be to ask “Who are You?”. Why, you ask? Because the question in this life is not How much do You make?, What is your career?, How much do you own?, What are your accomplishments?.

The question in this life that will matter in the next life is “Who are You?”. Or better yet, “Whose are You?”. This refocuses and aims the question towards the target of greatest significance: identity and nature! Feelings don’t matter. Work or career are not that crucial. Rather who a person is matters most. This is what is eternally important.

This is not a “become a better you” or “find your true self within” type of identity revelation. It’s not a self-revelation. It’s a self-realization. Who you are at your core is what defines you. Your nature is who you are by, well nature. Finding your true self can only be realized once it is revealed. And it is not a self-realization. It must be an “other-revelation”. It must be a divine-revelation from God almighty. He shows you who you are. Then He reveals to you Whose you are.

So maybe we should stop asking people all the time “How are you?” or “What do you do?” but rather “Who are you?” or “Whose are you?” or even “Who are you becoming?”. Strange looks will come. But they always do with new words, trends, and terms.

Why not start a language revolution? Be a word rebel. Fight to redeem the language for the sake of God and for people. It just may change a life. It just may change a person, forever.

I simply want the Gospel to not just inform but guide and drive my words. When the Gospel, or Good News about God’s goodness in His Son Jesus Christ, changes a person, it does so by proclaiming to them words of power, truth and grace! So a Christian who embraces the Gospel now has a new heart and a new language; a new vocabulary.

So, “Who are you?”.

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