Yes, they are. Useless.

I was thinking of this today as I was reading a book by a man who just recently died, as he was expounding the Christian understanding of grace. That word… means nothing it seems. We just say it, and then move on. Forget the scandalous uncomfortable forgiveness and undeserved favor that it represents that God extends to every one of us undeserving human beings. We say “grace” and think that the word has carried some meaning. If the word isn’t heard in tears… the meaning is lost.

Same with the word Christ. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. One very recent translation of the Bible has even avoided this word altogether, using “anointed one” or “anointed ruler” instead. Because the word as it was used in the New Testament isn’t Jesus’ last name at all. It’s a bold title that he claimed, one that led to such shock and scandal that the very word, and it’s aramaic and hebrew equivalents, probably got him killed, in the end. But we just say “Christ” and move on, thinking that the meaning has been carried. If somebody isn’t offended when you say that, and claim only heavenly allegiance and none earthly, then the meaning got lost.

Words are all we have, and I’m sorry that they have lost their meaning, but I hope that when we think on these things, when we read these words, we can try, somehow, to get that meaning back.