The Great Double Entendre
The greatest double entendre I know, the most delicious play on words--even God’s first pun--is "the Living Word." In the one phrase, “The Living Word,” we have this delectable intersection of Christ the Word, the Bible the Word, God’s Word spoken aloud in a universe in the midst of becoming. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” from John 1:1 echoes the Genesis creation itself: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I roll these verses over my tongue, asking—out loud—did God create with his Word (let there be…) or with Christ (who “is all and is in all”? (Col. 3:11)). Did God speak the universe—and our very existence—into being through Christ, the Word? Is Christ creation or word? Or is Word creation itself? Are we living out God’s articulated thought?
“Let there be light,” God said. And there was light. God’s spoken set of syllables with pitch and timbre and gut-level vibration had intention behind it so pure, so power-endowed and inarguable, that the sound itself fractured into light beams. God’s word sprang into matter. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As if creation weren’t enough, God’s Word is also salvation. Creation and salvation begin tumbling over each other, working their way backwards into the chicken or egg question. Which came first?
God never had to say, “Let there be the second person of the trinity,” as far as biblical record goes, apparently because the second person of the trinity IS the Word—full of Grace and Truth. The Living Word is the TRUE word, so true as to separate light from darkness, to create the heavens and the earth, to create out of meaningful sound the fishes of the sea and the birds of the air—and then to become flesh. So the Living Word is Christ wearing sandals in a Galilean street. Or it is the invisible Christ in us, this many years later, the mystery revealed to Paul: “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you” (Col 1:27).
The Living Word is the man, and the Living Word is the book—the Bible lying open on my kitchen table. It is Christ (your life is now hidden with Christ in God) alive in me. And it is every word on my memorized tongue that I can call forth: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mat: 4:4)” “…Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21). “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col 3:16). “‘Is not my word like fire,’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” (Jer 23:29). “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Col 1:17). “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
When I have unraveled the tantalizing brainteaser of all this, when in some moment of epiphany I have laid out all the pieces and understood how they cleverly fit together, that’s probably when I will find it is not a double entendre at all—but the greatest single truth. It’ll turn out to be neither metaphor nor simile. We won’t have to analyze whether it uses “like” or “as” to compare two things, because in the end, the Word IS Christ, his dwelling in me IS the Word, alive. The Word is creation itself married to salvation. The double entendre will perhaps be the most single of all truths, as simple as God’s “I am the I am.”