God The Conversation

Have you ever heard or read something written that captures your experience perfectly and when your done you wish you would have said it? Leonard Sweets book The Gospel According to Starbucks was that for me in spades particularly under the section Relational Codes of Conduct page 154 he says,

“One of the original meanings of the Latin work conversari, from which we get our word conversation, was ‘to live together…’ What codes do you live by so that we all can live together?

Technology reduces everything to binary codes of zero and one.

Politics reduces everything to legal codes of legislation.

Religions reduce everything to moral codes of principles.

Jesus reduced everything to a one-word relational code: love.”

Think about the implications of what Dr. Sweet is saying. To live together is to be in conversation with one another, but in a particular way. Loving my neighbor as myself takes on new meaning in light of this. To love my neighbor, (to live together the way I would want my neighbor to live with me) would then be to converse with my neighbor as I would want my neighbor to converse with me.

Jesus commands us to love one another even as he has loved us. If we hear this in the context of conversation what could it mean? Can we even imagine? I know for me, the implications are mind boggling, especially when I take into account the meaning of neighbor, “the one closest to me in the geographical sense not the preferential sense.” What does this mean with regard to my enemy (the one who seeks to destroy me), the homosexual, an ex-spouse, the Mormon, the Jew, the Scientologist, etc.

In my research for a book that will soon be published I found this translation of John 1:1-14 by Professor Clive Scott of Erasmus’ translation of “logos” as “conversation” (Erasmus was the theologian who translated much of the New Testament for the first Bible published) that sheds light into the depth, power, possibility and responsibility that comes with the gift of conversation.

“It all arose out of a Conversation, a Conversation within God. In fact, the Conversation was God.

So, God started the discussion and everything came out of this and nothing happened without consultation. This was the life, the life that was the light of men shining in the darkness,
a darkness which neither understood nor quenched its creativity.

John, a man sent by God, came to remind people about the nature of the light so that they would observe. He was not the subject under discussion but the bearer of an invitation to join in.

The subject of the Conversation, the original light, came into the world, the world that had arisen out of his willingness to converse. He fleshed out the words but the world did not understand. He came to those who knew the language, but they did not respond.

Those who did became a new creation (his children); they read the signs and responded. These children were born out of sharing in the creative activity of God. They heard the Conversation still going on, here, now, and took part, discovering a new way of being people.

To be invited to share in a Conversation about the nature of life, was for them, a glorious opportunity not to be missed.”

It occurs to me that:

  • Conversation is deeply connected to God’s nature and ours:It all arose out of a Conversation, a Conversation within God. In fact, the Conversation was God.”
  • Conversation is the key to personal and social transformation: “They heard the Conversation still going on, here, now, and took part, discovering a new way of being people.”
  • A particular type of conversation, consultation, is light that reveals: “God started the discussion and everything came out of this and nothing happened without consultation. This was the life, the life that was the light of men shining in the darkness”
  • “Word” as “Conversation” is quite a move away from the idea of One who speaks a WORD and it all happens. And so, if it is consultation or collaboration through conversation, which is the life, then it is that nature of life which is revealed and in which we can share. What are the implications for the whole Gospel story? What would open up if the whole Gospel were translated from this perspective?
  • Unlike a proclamation you can join a conversation. The good news of the Gospel is that God is an invitation to join in: “John, a man sent by God, came to remind people about the nature of the light so that they would observe. He was not the subject under discussion but the bearer of an invitation to join in.”

I am captured by the possibilities in the areas of community, evangelism, preaching and public discourse.

I am curious as to what occurs for you?