Most of us do not proclaim to be preachers or teachers or evangelists, or at least not designated as such. Many of us feel that we are not really up for “religious talk” and prefer to stay clear of that zone. However, all of us are involved in unstructured, informal conversations that arise from incidents and encounters with one another. These take place in day-to-day living when we go about with family shopping for groceries, or meet up with a group of friends for a meal or huddle round our study groups talking about anything other than academics! And we often dismiss all of this as insignificant, “small talk”.
I was recently led to think through however, whether this “small talk” is really small talk or something more important than we give credit for.
Our deacon, Ronald Wong, reminded us from the pulpit recently that all of us are part of God’s larger narrative, where our stories are part of His story. If that is true, and I strongly suggest that it is, our day-to-day “small talk” should now be seen as opportunities and platforms to listen out and observe God’s hand at work in another person’s life.
Some of us might have experienced that before but it is often noticed only in retrospect.
Eugene Peterson describes these moments like this: We meet a friend while shopping and stop to talk for a while – a minute or two at most. A few hours later, we realise that something said was revelatory, a realisation of grace, a perception of beauty, a sense of presence in which we develop an awareness that “God was in this place and I did not know it”.
When we look into the accounts of the Bible, we notice too that most of the verbal discourses recorded were not sermons or heavy teaching but conversations from the comings and goings of everyday life and situations – weddings, funerals, homes, wells, etc.
During sermons or Christian talks, we often pray that God will tune our ears and help us listen in to the “things of God” and we ask that the Holy Spirit might convict us so that we might learn…. And rightly so!
Yet, as we acknowledge that every aspect our lives can and is used by God for our sanctification, shall we not also ask God for that same sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in our conversations round lunch, walks, grocery shopping, sports, etc.? Let us not treat “small talk” as small anymore. Rather, let us adopt a stance of listening – listening to the Holy Spirit as well as to each other. Let us not be quick to dispense advice but to firstly appreciate the uniqueness of each individual and the surrounding circumstances in which the person lives in. May our “conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col 4:6)
By Adrian Ow, Assistant Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 2&3 July 2016)