Come on Now

I get a kick out of the descriptions placed on the back of coffee bags, and wine bottles. In an effort to lure you into buying them, it seems as though some wordsmith is stuck in a tower somewhere stringing together adjectival chains and adverbial superlatives to “communicate” the highest values of any given commodity. Check these out:

“Sassy sweet plum and chocolaty essence with a creamy finish”

“A light, robust, effervescent, fruity-red with a delicate bouquet and ambitious overtones of Bordeaux”

“Suggestions of citrus notes with a rich smooth cocoa finish”

“Sweet kiss of oak mingles with layers of tangerine in giddy celebration”

“Unique influences…The resulting coffee is medium bodied with a depth and complexity vigor of earthy, smoky notes and a hint of cocoa”

“Complex and a bit wooly, yet understated nuances”

Whhaaat? Wooly?! Who knew? Just what I needed, a glass of wine with “built-in” dental floss. What kind of etymological and linguistically salubrious world do these people live in?

Descriptions of these “crisp reflections” on product identity are engaging; definitely products of some very creative marketing minds with “very creamy notes and superb finish.”

Although they are amusing, although they are clever, I am not so sure they truly describe the product, or accurately capture my own experience. Sometimes, the actual reality could be a let-down compared to the hyped introduction. So, I do have to ask myself, “Does the truth get lost in the midst of the hyperbole?”

I find it interesting that when God desired to communicate the greatest of messages to mankind, He did not employ those most gifted of tongue, nor the slickest of salesmen. Rather, He conscripted those who struggled. And yet, the message was not lost in the messenger. Two such leaders some to mind: Moses and Paul.

Moses was not the smooth motivational speaker to “sweet-talk” the people into obeying God. After being “tapped” for the job, Moses tries to wriggle of the hook, “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue’” (Exodus 4:10). Though Moses seems to stutter, God communicates that there is nothing to worry about; “The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?  “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (Exodus 4:11-12). In other words, God had the situation well under control. Besides, God had Aaron in the wings as well.

Perhaps a bit more surprising is the attitude of Paul as he was commissioned to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. I would imagine that most of us feel this guy was a pretty gifted speaker, but as we read in his letter to the Corinthians that was anything but the case.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Amazing words, and amazing to think Paul would concede this major deficiency in his resume (by the way, this admission should be a feature of any given minister’s resume). He was not consumed with oratorical eloquence, he was compelled to transmit the pure message of Christ, and Him crucified. And I love the fact that Paul was terrified to have been charged with such a noble task. But he accepted his role so that the Spirit, and the power of God might be revealed in his own weakness. I say, “Take note, pastors, preachers, teachers, and evangelists! This should be our posture, that the power of God would be displayed through us. It’s not about us! We are not the focal point of Gospel excellence.” I take great comfort in this, that God will use me, in spite of any deficiencies.

Let’s allow the world to have the corner on the razzle-dazzle; they do a pretty good job with it. Let’s you and I focus on the job at hand–Jesus Christ and Him crucified. No adjectival chains or adverbial superlatives needed. No brilliant closings. No ta-das.

The beautiful, redemptive message of our Lord Jesus Christ is strong enough to stand on its own.