It is such a long time since I posted. Now I am back. Keep tuned. As a writer I am fascinated by language so here is a post about it.
I guess since I have been working with a congregation that is made up of twenty-eight different nationalities for the last three years, I have become even more sensitive to the understanding of those whose first language is not English. Now that means that they have trouble understanding the English that is spoken today. If that were not enough of a challenge, to try to communicate spiritual ideas to them in an ancient form of English, just frustrates them as they try to understand another language they have never learned and will not usually hear outside of gatherings of church people. Why would we try to make it more difficult for them? To me, that is not showing love for them.
For example, a longtime believer will speak to them glowingly and sincerely of the bliss of abiding in Christ. The quizzical expression with which they respond is not a mark of their lack of spiritual depth, but rather manifests their confusion about the language we are using. What on earth does it mean to abide in someone? There may be a small chance that they have heard of staying in a particular place as being described as abiding there. But to abide in a person, or in God, what could that mean?
If we were to express to them the joy that we experience as we daily practice putting our trust in Jesus to help us face the challenges we meet, we might just pique their curiosity, rather than confuse them. They might want to raise questions with us about how we could place our trust in Someone who once lived on this earth but according to what they understand the Bible to stay, left here to return to Heaven. What an open invitation to introduce the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus who lives in us and among us here and now.
Such clear communication might evoke questions about whether God is really interested in the details of our lives enough to be concerned about the challenges we face each day. This opens the door for us to share our unspectacular yet faith-building stories of the activity of God in our daily lives. Not only can we share our stories, we can also ask our friends if they have ever had experiences that have caused them to wonder about the world that is beyond the senses and how it might have some kind of influence upon their lives. We will be amazed at what God is doing in the most unexpected places with the most unlikely people.
There is nothing as exciting as discovering the activity of God in our everyday world and clear communication of spiritual realities in everyday language opens the door. It gives us opportunities to become bilingual. We learn to speak Christianize in ordinary English. I dare you to give it a try. Then tell me about your experience. I can't wait to hear.