When I visit family in Minnesota, I notice that my "o's" lengthen on words like "boat" and "snow." The accent returns. After a while, we start to sound like the people around us.
Last night I walked my neighborhood during the presidential debate. In nearly every window I saw the glow of a TV tuned to Trump and Biden. I caught the end of the debate. It was a tone and language that I warn my children against.
Language has the power to shape and form us. We are influenced by the voices around us, picking up their "accent." Our own language is often normed by what we hear. As a pastor in this cultural moment, I have a simple desire for my congregation.
I want us to listen to Jesus more than Fox News or CNN. More to Jesus than to Facebook, Instagram, or TicToc.
I want us to be more attuned to Christ than to a candidate.
I want us to echo the talking points of the Sermon on the Mount more than a Democrat or Republican platform.
My congregation will be hanging around Jesus in Matthew 5-7 in the coming weeks. I want us to absorb his language in the Sermon on the Mount as we go through an election season. I want us to be steeped in his distinctive accent. I want us to see how radically different his kingdom is.
In this sermon, Jesus says things that no one else is saying. In a world obsessed with power, position, and popularity, Jesus' stump speech sounds foreign. For instance, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). The "poor in spirit" stand in contrast to the world's "winners," "victors," and "influencers." The values and virtues of the Kingdom of God contrast the trinket kingdoms of the world.
Poverty of spirit over power.
Dependence over control.
The humble over the proud.
The meek over the loud.
I want us to be formed more by the Kingdom of God than by the ways of the world. For the next month, I invite you to join me in digesting Kingdom language:
Pick up the accent of your King. Then people might even ask where you're from.