Have you ever stopped to think about what you are actually saying whenever you say things? Unfortunately, I do not always think before I speak, but that is changing. Recently, I was helping a friend out with some yard work and was corrected for saying the word “awesome”. He would say something to the effect of “No, Terry, a falling tree is not awesome. God is awesome.”
Well, once I was corrected, I became self-conscious about it and said it over and over that day. By the end of the day I was getting the bored science teacher monotone, “No, Terry, that is not awesome. God is awesome.” It became quite humorous (and frustrating), but it really got me to thinking about what we say and what we mean when we say it.
Awesome is defined as being in excess of awe or inspiring awe. Awe is defined as an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. Somehow, I do not think that describes a tree falling or a piece of good news like saving a bunch of money on car insurance or even Albert Pujols hitting a homerun to win a baseball game (though that is pretty cool). However, most of us use words like this every day. It seems to me that when we do this, we begin to empty the words of their meaning and find that we weaken our vocabulary to a point that we can no longer discuss things of true grandeur.
I mean, seriously, do you think God, who is already incomprehensible to begin with, can be described by a word that is used so loosely today as “awesome?” All one has to do to see what I mean by this is look at the word “love” and how it is used today. In most cases, love is used as a term with sexual meaning to it. One day, you are in love with your girlfriend of 2 months and the next day you cannot stand her. What if God “loved” us the way we “love” everyone? I think the same is true for words like “awesome.”
I think my son, who is 4 years old, showed me just how little “awesome” means. We were driving in the car the other day and I said something was neat and he said, “No, daddy that is not neat. God is neat.” What he just did was equate the word “neat” with the word “awesome.” We all realize that neat is at the very least a notch below awesome, but I do not think we speak like that as often as we should.
My Solution to the abuse of “Awesome”
While I realize that this more a personal conviction than biblical precedent, I have found that each time I (or someone else) says that something is “awesome,” I say what was said to me: “That is not awesome. God is awesome.” What I have discovered is that it helps me to think of the greatness of God and all His glory more readily and it also helps me to share some of that with others. It just seems that we play too fast and loose with our words on a daily basis and this is to our detriment.
I would like to challenge all ministers and seminary students and Christians in general to make a list of words that you use to describe God and then set them apart (make them holy) as unto God. Monitor how you use those words that you have written in every day conversation. You may be more surprised than you think to discover just how little you really think of God—I know I did.