If you were to use three words to describe yourself, what would they be? Dashing, confident and clumsy? Thoughtful, content and polite? Comic, intense and quirky? Have a go, it’s not so easy is it? Perhaps it’s easier for others who can see you from the outside?
A recent study has revealed just this, at least for the footballers taking part in the World Cup. The Cambridge University Press collated the words used to describe each nation’s team over a variety of media outlets into a multi-billion word database of spoken and written words and have produced a list of the three most used words for each. So what words were used? For England the top three words were; exciting, inexperienced and disappointing, words which probably summed up their short-lived participation well. For Brazil, the hosts; emotional, popular, desperate and for the two finalists Germany and Argentina; powerful, focussed and committed, and confident, flair and unconvincing.
Reading the results is interesting, even with three words some quite complex patterns emerged, mixtures of positive and negative. You can certainly see that in England’s set with exciting placed alongside disappointing, or Brazil’s coexisting popular and desperate. So often people are presented as one-dimensional, but there’s much more to all of us than that. We all have a good side and a dark side, hidden depths and surprising characteristics. Surprisingly the press shows this, if maybe exaggerating these facets to the extremes, swinging from one view to the other. Perhaps there’s a lesson here for us to be wary of seeing either supposedly good people or purportedly bad people so simplistically, just as seeing Brazilian footballs as flamboyant or Germans as functionary; the 7-1 scoreline when they met certainly demonstrated the fallacy of this.
This all got me wondering, if God was given the task of summarising us in three words, what words would he choose?
The first word I think would be ‘YES’. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ…’ Jesus is God’s word of acceptance to us, a word of grace and affirmation.
The second word is related to this. It is ‘LOVE’. John 3:16 famously says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ God speaks his word of acceptance because of his love for us.
The final word I think would be ‘FAMILY’. The loving invitation of God through Jesus to us is to become his children, ‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…’ (John 1:12)
What a difference it might make if we could learn to see each other with these same three words.
(To see the rest of the World Cup words see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/28247716)
Church Newsletter article, 13th July 2014