The other day, a prospective parent at Stoneybrooke asked me where I was from. He heard a “y all” in my conversation and assumed I was from the south. Truth be known, I think I have a southern British accent from the islands (Hawaii), reflecting all the moving around I did as a kid.
But the “y all” comment got me to thinking about how the scriptures treat the pronoun “you.” (I know we are not all English majors, but this pronoun thing is a big deal! Please read on.)
Generally speaking, when we read “you” in our Bibles, we usually think that passage is speaking about and to ourselves. The problem occurs because the English language makes no singular or plural differentiation of the personal pronoun “you.” (Both Greek and Hebrew do!)
So when we read passages like “…this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) or “…You count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2) or “…You give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (Ps. 106:1); we begin to think that we are a church or congregation of one.
We are convinced that it is all about me personally. We believe that the promises and encouragements are for a single person trying to make their way through the world.
In fact, there are over 4700 verses in the Old and New Testaments where the plural pronoun “you” is translated in English with a simple but misleading singular “you.” The problem is that it is too easy for us to think that all those verses (commands, encouragements, blessings) are limited to just one person rather than to the Church as a whole community.
It is a Western way of viewing self at the center of everything. But that is not the way God sees His people.
To make it clear when God is focused on all of us, wouldn’t it be good if we could insert the southern “y all” in all of the 4700 places in our Bibles where God is speaking to His entire family of believers?
Well, there is an app for that. It is called the Texas Bible. But if downloading that version isn’t possible for you, maybe this week we could all just slow down a bit when we are reading scripture. Ask the question, is this just for me or should I look at it in the context of a community of believers?
I am convinced that looking at those verses through the lens of community can be a profound experience. It will drive us to be more active and involved in our churches. It will urge us to seek out small groups for accountability. It will help connect us in a very meaningful way.
Let’s do it, y’all!