Source of Our Words

Source of Our Words:

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I've been working through a number of Bible Studies, tracing the source and meaning of the words we take for granted. Daily. Daily these words are in our vocabulary and we've accepted their meaning to be understood based on their global and historical usage. And we are generally okay with that.

But lately, and even longer ago than lately, words have been changing their meanings by the various users and abusers of our language. Not only are these changes subtle, but they are trainwrecks as they move from positive to a distant negative. It is getting difficult to know what you can use, or say, without stepping on some little petunia's foot. My apologies to the flower world!

See. I just did it. Petunia. I highjacked the word from the Botanical world and brought it into the name calling arena! Am I wrong in doing this? Maybe. It depends on what a Petunia is… maybe. It's a deeper subject than what the Petunia is, but let's stay with that thought for a moment.I had to go look it up. It simply sounded good at the moment. Ahhhaaa… Petunia! They are some of my favorite flowers. We use them in hanging baskets and the hummingbirds simply love them!

So. Was a Petunia hurt with my usage? Well, as an analogy a Petunia is a weakling blossom. It needs constant care and plenty of watering, even an overabundance of nurturing to keep it alive. It needs protection from the relentless elements. And it will eventually fade and die. According to one source, if you lived further south, it may rebound in the spring…a perennial. But for us, it is an annual. Toss into the recycle bin at the end of fall and buy new in the spring.

So. Was a Petunia hurt in my sentence? It has no feelings. Where does the word come from? Let me share.

Petunia first showed up in its current form in 1825. The New Latin word comes from an obsolete French word, "petun", which is another word for tobacco. Compare the blossoms from the Petunia plant and the Tobacco plant, and you will see they are familiar looking, and they are from the same genus or source.

Whoa! A delicate flower is from the same family as the tobacco?

Actually, it is in the same Genus (a class of things that have common characteristics and that can be divided into subordinate kinds) and Family (The family Solanaceae is in the major group Angiosperms (Flowering plants)). See, science has so ordered their world of the existence of things that everything can be lumped together according to where it comes from. It's called the Taxonomic rank and is the relative level of a group of organisms into a hierarchy.

All of life is categorized into levels. Though I remember this from Science classes, I had to rethink this viewpoint. There is a neat upside down pyramid ranking of everything under the umbrella of Life. At the broadest end (the top of the upside down pyramid is the Domain, then Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.

So, a Petunia is in the Nicotiana Genus, and part of the Solanaceae Family, which also includes other plants like Tomatoes and Potatoes…

It's enlightening and confusing! The deeper you research, and the language source you dig through, you realize just how little we use language correctly!

On a Spiritual front, we make the case that we are Christians with a Christian worldview. But to lump all Christians together with the thought that we are all in the same bucket would be like saying all Parents have the same view of raising their children.

But if we are Christians, then where do we get a right to use that term? In the New Testament, this word is only used three times, and never by Jesus Christ! Nor is it mentioned in the Gospels! Twice in Acts (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28) and once by Peter (1 Peter 4:16).

Various commentaries suggest that the word came to light as a result of identifying the growing group of Christians like a political party, or it was used by those first Christians to help establish their identity with each other, or it was a term of derision to make fun of those who believed in a dead savior.

So. To believe that you are a Christian can mean simply you are a follower of Christ. What does the word "Christ" mean? The Greek word that we take from the New Testament original language is "Christos" and simply means anointed, but its source is another Greek word next in line that means contact, as in the idea to rub or smear with oil. A deeper word for the act of anointment.

A follower of Christ is essentially one who is Anointed with the anointment that is Jesus Christ! Even Jesus used this word.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19 KJV)

Jesus was anointed for action. If we are to be Christians, followers of Christ, then we are anointed for similar action. Preach the Good News (Gospel) to the poor. Heal the brokenhearted. Preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind…and to let at liberty them that are bruised with life. Preach the acceptable year of the Lord!

Can a Christian be anything less than the one they claim to be following? Is there a taxonomy for this experience? Yes. It's called the Bible.


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