“Dad, who’s Florida State versing today?”
“Versing?” I asked. “Is that what you said?”
“Yes, versing,” Drake replied.
Drake heard the word “versus,” normally used for “Florida vs. Florida State.” By the sound, he turned the word into “verse.” When he heard the sports commentators describing two teams competing against each other, he heard, “Florida State versus North Carolina State,” and assumed this was an activity.
In fact, so many kids say the word “versing,” that it is rapidly becoming a slang verb. “Who are we versing in _________?” is a common question on elementary school playgrounds.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories, “versus” came from the middle English Latin word “towards.” Even the word “verse,” normally used as a noun, at one time was used as a verb. When someone recited poetry or stories, they were “versing.” But the meaning is almost the same as versus. “Verse” came from a vertere “to turn.”
The nature of this lexical word history suggests that we’ve lost some of the import of our language. That we can’t really have it both ways. We can’t have the steak and the chicken. We’ve got to choose. We can’t have divided loyalties between two teams. In fact, the kids have taken a word for choice and turned it into a competition. It’s the sense that the two are rivals. They’re versing one another while we’re trying to choose which one to follow.
We’d like to think that it’s always us vs. them. We Christians are against “the world.” But that’s Jesus’ job. Not ours. And Christ is already King of the world. Our struggle is that the greatest conflict and challenge is with ourselves—everything we want to do. We think we can sort of pile it all on top of a choice we made to follow Christ. Or if we start following Christ, we can drag everything else with us as if nothing else really changed.
Paul said we need some verses from Philippians to help us see the conflicts in our lives. What seems like a simple 4-chapter pep talk is actually an invitation to “Know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” Normally, we could rely on an inspirational worship service, or great music, or beauty to elevate our hearts and change our lives. But Paul writes to us from prison. In prison, you don’t feel very good; emotionally you’re drained; physically you’re weak. Everything is versing you. As Paul said, I want you to know something practically. All those choices in life are setting up a group of decisions that are rivals against the one person who wants your loyalty. It’s not you against the world. It’s you versing you. The only way forward is to think and decide to follow the One who leads through the power of the cross to the joy that comes from knowing Him. Turn from those things and toward Christ. No, this decision will not necessarily result in more touchdowns, popularity among friends, better grades, or higher-paying careers. But you will thrive in the power of the resurrection as your life comes alive in Him.
So what is versing you today?