I’m currently enrolled in a Chinese Mandarin language refresher course. About six hours a day, five coworkers and I sit in a classroom, practicing reading, writing, speaking, and hearing Chinese. We get homework and additional material to review, much of which is vocabulary lists of unfamiliar words.
The vocab review is absolutely essential to success.
I can know how all the grammar works, how all the sentences get put together, and so on. I can speak perfectly, with no accent and accurate tones. I could write beautiful Chinese characters that look like calligraphy you might buy at a store. But If I don’t know the words, I won’t understand much, and nothing I do will make sense.
Give it a shot. What does this mean to you?
If you don’t know the vocab or haven’t learned the language, you won’t get the message, let alone be able to communicate it yourself.
For the worshiper, that’s where beliefs come in. Our doctrine and our beliefs are the skeletons, the framework that holds up what we do and why we do it. If I accurately understand something of who God is and what God has done, then that is fuel for my worship of God. If I know what Scripture teaches about who I am in relation to God, then that makes His grace amazing.
Songs can’t communicate to us something we don’t already grasp. We won’t appreciate the value if we don’t have the vocab. David Crowder can sing “He is our portion and we are His prize” (John Macmillan, How He Loves).
But if I’ve never seen that in Scripture and never digested the thought that – for whatever reason – God has set a very high value on you and me–
Then that will just be a nice turn of phrase in the song, something to get us to the next rhyme.
But if I look at Matthew 13:44 and see a Savior who sold everything to take hold of a treasure… If I consider 1st Peter 2:9-11 that claims we are a special possession cherished by God… And I see how that passage points back to the Old Testament and God’s covenant with Israel… And then I recall verses like Isaiah 43:3-4 where God promises He would sell the whole world to get His people back… Oh, how sweet Philippians 2:5-11 becomes, where I read about all that Christ gave up, all that He laid aside for the sake of God’s plan of redemption.
When I am familiar with the depths of love revealed in Scripture, and the costs God endured to lay hold of the treasure on His heart – namely you and me – well, that gives me some vocabulary words to use to express my gratitude!
Then when my church sings “Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness” and “Humbly You came to the earth You created, all for love’s sake, became poor…” (Tim Hughes, here I Am to Worship)
Now I get it. Now I can take that song and make it mine, pour my heart and my emotions and all my love and thanks into it, and truly respond in worship to what God has done, not just sing in the musical portion of the service to try and sound good.
Picking “Bible” for the A to Z challenge would have been too easy, but it’s still accurate. The Bible informs our beliefs, instructs us in doctrine. Why? So that we are prepared for evey good work God has called us to accomplish. 2 Tim 3:16-17
Time and again, surveys show a woeful lack of understanding of basic Christian doctrine in the West, especially in this “Christian nation” called the United States. As worshipers, as those seeking to encounter God’s powerful presence, it behooves us to get well-acquainted with some key words and concepts about God and our relationship to Him.
How strong is your vocabulary? I know I’ve got some reviewing to do.