Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #5

Other Tongues

Scripture

Acts 2:11b

“…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

Insight

Imagine you were going to take a trip to France: before you left you spent 2 months doing a short-course in basic and conversational French. You do this because once you get there, you want to be familiar with the customs, culture and language of the people that you will be living amongst for the next period of time. In order to communicate what you want, you must be able to speak to them in a language they understand – they will not all instantly change and speak to you in your language.

Evangelism is a bit like learning a new language. You have people in your world that you would like to communicate the message of Jesus with, but their background, education, customs perhaps are different to yours. The way they see the world might be different, the way they think about parenting, politics, and religion might be strange. But, in order to communicate the message to them, you must be familiar with their language: familiar with the way they see and talk about the world.

One of the beautiful things about the passage above is that at Pentecost, not only did the Spirit of God inspire an outpouring of worship and wonder towards God, not only did the Spirit inspire a flood of evangelistic power right then and there, but that these things, worship and evangelism, were heard by foreign Jews visiting the city of Jerusalem – in a language they could understand! They did not have to adjust their language to hear the praise of God, it came to them in a form they could pick up right away.

This is how the Lord Jesus does ministry: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. We did not (nor could not) become divine to meet with Him – he became human to meet with us. When we could not bridge the gap, He bridged it for us. It follows that once we have received the Spirit of God, our ministry will have the same flavour of incarnation – that we will go to people and speak to them on their ground, in a language they understand.

Of course, we must stay true to our own convictions and ‘own’ our worldview. There is nothing to be gained by lazy and fearful ‘incarnation’ that bows to the culture it is trying to reach – that would be like learning a new language and immediately forgetting your mother tongue. What we see here is the extension of God’s grace to the nations – a foretaste of the time when we will stand together ‘with every tribe, nation and tongue’ to declare the wonders of the Lamb. Let’s immerse ourselves into our world and engage with people, together with the Spirit of God to hasten this reality.

Questions:

  1. What scares you most about sharing your faith with people?
  2. How might God use you to simply love the ‘outsiders’ that you know?
  3. What are some things you can do to ‘learn the language’ of the people God wants to reach through you?