Summary: We can tell others that we love them--that God loves them until we are blue in the face, but they will not understand our speech until it is put into action…until it is tangible…until it awakens in them, an understanding, a craving for what they need most
“Speaking the Language of Love”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Recently, I read about an embarrassing incident that took place during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
President Carter made a state visit to Poland, one which attracted a great deal of attention because the Cold War was still going on.
The eyes of the world were on the American President, and his efforts at international reconciliation.
President Carter began a major speech in Warsaw by saying, in Polish, “I have a lustful desire in my heart for the Polish people.”
What he meant to say was, “I have a great love for the Polish people.”
The problem was he was relying on a translator who didn’t know Polish very well, and whose real specialty was 19th Century Russian.
We all know about language barriers.
They can cause a lot of problems and conflict.
We live in a world of clashing cultures, rampant misunderstanding, of wars and famines that could easily be avoided, if only everyone could sit down together and talk the same language.
But, even when the language is supposedly the same, we all know there can be problems.
Winston Churchill said that England and the United States are “two countries divided by a common language.”
And how often is this true even within our most intimate relationships?
It’s so easy for a husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister to talk with one another for hours on end, both speaking English—yet neither one truly understanding the other on the deepest level.
It happens all the time, does it not?
And the results can be tragic!
If only we could learn to understand one another, and thus be---understanding!
As we see in our Scripture Passage, on the day of Pentecost, they didn’t need translators!
Everybody understood in their own language.
This may cause us to ask, “What language had they been expecting?”
At that time, all around the Mediterranean world, everybody’s second language was Greek.
Greek was, to much of that world, what English is for many in the world today.
The people who had traveled to Jerusalem were certainly able to get by in Greek, while probably speaking at least one other language, if not two or three.
But on the day of Pentecost they didn’t need to switch languages, or worry about translation.
It was all done for them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This was the birth of the Church; the dawn of a new day and many persons came to know Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord!
And isn’t that what God wants?...
…to sweep away all barriers and to allow men, women, and children to truly hear one another?
This should be our goal as the Church.
We are to reach all people with the saving message of Christ!
For, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear…?”
Is this not a question we all wrestle with?
How do we convey the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way that all will be able to hear and understand?
We live in a community where there is literally a church on every corner.
And with modern technology, most anyone can hear a Christian preacher on television or radio just about any time of day.
Everyone, at least in America, has access to a Bible.
And if you want commentary on what it means, turn on your computer and “Google” it!
You can read about it or hear it in whatever language you choose.
But still, people do not understand it.
With all these amazing means of communicating with one another, we still have so many barriers.
And we are living in a time, when, arguably more persons than ever…
…in the history of the world…
…do not understand why the Church of Jesus Christ exists, or do not think it has any relevance to their lives.
What is wrong with this picture?
Why are we having such a hard time conveying the message of Christ?
Could it be that even we, are speaking in a language that persons do not understand?
If so, how do we change this?
The answer comes at Pentecost.
There is a language that nearly everyone can understand and it is the language that nearly everyone needs to hear and wants to hear!
And that is the language of God, which is the language of Love.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbor.
And, our love for God inescapably motivates us to love others.
But, of course, it’s hard to love everybody…