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It’s that time of year again: graduation time. And this time of year, I like to play the “what-would-i-say-if-i-was-ever-a-commencement-speaker” game. Bet you can’t guess how to play.

This week’s question is along those lines. You are a commencement speaker at your alma mater. You have done your speech, and now you come to the very end. For this week’s question:

“Complete the following sentence to close your commencement address: ‘And finally, graduates, …”

**The goal of “One Question Friday” is simple: To show that everyone has something funny, engaging, creative, and worthwhile to say. So comment away! Be real. Be creative. Think hard. And check back to see how others answered the question.

Correct.

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(HT: Rob)

In Galatians 3:13, Paul announced that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

In this, he quoted Deuteronomy 21:23 which clearly states that anyone who dies on a tree is cursed by God. We might well pause in wonder at this – Christ cursed by God? One member of the Trinity cursing another? How can it be? Why can it be?

The great truth is that Christ became a curse so that we didn’t have to be. He took the righteous wrath and judgment of God on Himself so that we might not have to. But let’s not stop there, because the language Paul used is pretty intriguing.

Namely, there is this question: Why did He say that Christ became a curse rather than Christ was cursed? And what’s the difference in those two statements? I think there’s something important there for us, because it adds another layer of depth to what we talk about in the gospel.

My son loves to pretend he is stuff. He’s Wolverine. Or he’s Batman. But his favorite thing to be is a Jedi. He loves to walk around with a towel over his head with his hands folded serenely, only to drop the towel at a given moment and attack with a light saber. But there’s a big difference between acting like a Jedi and actually becoming one.

To become is to change the essence. It’s the difference between having water poured on your head and someone swimming inside you. Becoming is deeper than having something done to you.

Christ wasn’t just cursed; He became a curse. And He had to, because what we are talking about in the gospel is a change in our very core. In our very essence.

See, at our core, we are sinners. It’s not just what we do; it’s who we are. The gospel isn’t just God looking the other way and saying, “Ya’ll come on into heaven;” it’s about us becoming something entirely different than we are.

The same apostle would put it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:21: He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

Because Christ became a curse, we become His righteousness. And as profoundly as Christ became a curse, that’s how profoundly we became His righteousness.

Summer is a comin’. And, because it is, I am taking the time to do my yearly ritual of calendaring all the summer movie releases that I want to see. That’s what today’s question is about:

“What’s the summer movie you are most excited about seeing?”

There’s some good ones. If you can’t remember them all, click here to watch a montage of their previews.

**The goal of “One Question Friday” is simple: To show that everyone has something funny, engaging, creative, and worthwhile to say. So comment away! Be real. Be creative. Think hard. And check back to see how others answered the question.

The classic words of the faith – saved, lost, cross, grace, love, justice – these words have been so infiltrated into the language of the Christian subculture that we often use them as Christians without ever thinking about what they mean. In a way, you could say our language has been imprisoned by the Christian subculture.

I believe we need a language jail break. Here’s how I wrote it in the introduction to my upcoming Bible study release, Holy Vocabulary: Resucing the Language of Faith:

Klingon is an actual language. That’s right—the war-loving, spear-toting villains of Star Trek world have their own official language. And people speak it. In fact, you can even get a college scholarship if you’re familiar with the alien language.1 Similarly, there are people who write letters to one another in Elvish, a language that originated in The Lord of the Rings.

More common is the vocabulary shared between people who know a thing or two about cars. Enter into their conversation and you might hear stuff about carburetors and engine blocks. There’s also a culture of couponers, who talk about BOGO discounts and rebates, and inform one another about which store is selling Pampers® wipes at a discounted rate this week.

Stick me in any of these situations and I’d be totally lost, completely uncomfortable, and speechless. But if you consider yourself part of the subculture of Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, auto mechanics, or thrifty shoppers, you might feel right at home.

Subcultures are like that. They have their own language, dress, and customs. If you’re a part of that subculture, you’ve integrated the speech, clothes, and food into your daily life, and now you don’t even give it a second thought. You freely communicate in Klingon with your friends, not worrying too much about the unenlightened individuals who haven’t bothered to pick up their own pronunciation guide.

But if you’re the unenlightened individual observing a subculture from the outside, what you see means relatively little to you. You see groups of people convinced that how they communicate with one another is normal. However you, the outsider, hear nothing but confusing rhetoric. You live in the real world, where people actually speak languages that others can understand.

Subcultures are everywhere. Chances are you belong to at least one, even if you don’t realize it. You might be a member of the technology subculture. Or the home school subculture. Or the SEC football subculture.

Me? I’m a card-carrying member of the Christian subculture. We have our own rock stars, communicators, authors, schools, radio stations, and lines of apparel. We even have our own arguments that mean relatively little to anyone outside the subculture. The Christian subculture is filled with customs, dress, food, and a vocabulary of holy words that, to the common observer, are as unfamiliar as the cliffs of Mordor or the parts under the hood of a car.
A non-Christian walking into the church today might as well be stepping into a comic book convention. They would likely find a group of people so entrenched in their own subculture that they don’t even think about what they’re saying, singing, or preaching. After all, they all understand each other; they’re speaking the same language.

Subcultures do have a positive side—they’re safe. They’re comfortable. They’re easy. They’re part of who you are. Inside the comfort of a subculture, you don’t really have to think a lot about what you’re saying or the meaning behind it. For example, if you’re in the Christian subculture, it’s natural to assume that everyone around you knows what it means to be “saved,” they know how to “repent,” and they know what it means to call God “holy.” So you just rattle on, firmly entrenched in the familiar.

The problem is, not everyone does understand. Within the church, we operate under the assumption that people know what we mean when we talk about “church” things. For 2,000 years, we’ve been using classic words of the faith to describe what Christianity is all about. But in those 2,000 years, there have been countless arguments, discrepancies, and qualifications about these terms. The same terms that “everyone” understands. I can’t help but wonder if we, members of the church, even know what we’re saying anymore.

And that’s the danger of living inside of a subculture—you can get so accustomed to certain aspects of that subculture that they lose their meaning. The Lord’s Supper becomes just a snack between the songs and the sermon, and the Bible becomes the hard surface to put your intra-worship doodle pad on…

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Holy Vocabulary releases July 1. You can pre-order your copy of the Bible study here. Go ahead – you know you want to. Or at least I want you to!