Language Barriers

The other day, as I was leaving the bank, I overheard a conversation between two women, the topic under discussion being the preparation of SFQ's and MRE's.  I had absolutely no idea of what they were talking about.  I had a similar experience earlier in the year as I began to investigate replacing our computer.  Talk of DX or SX, buses, caches and the like left me no better informed.  In fact, if you have ever talked to someone "in the know" about computers, you soon realise that there is a whole new language to be learned.

I began to realise that every area of interest these days creates its own special language - even in the church.  That is no problem for those who use these things every day, but when the object of existence is to communicate and sell (as in the computer industry), this language stands as a barrier.

How much do we have a similar problem in the church?  The very things that we are called and commissioned as caretakers of are required to be communicated to a needy world.  Terms like salvation, justification, blessing, sin, are specialist terms that may be well understood in the church (and that could be debated also), but when we use them to relate the gospel to non-church people, we may as well be speaking a different language.

The apostle Paul invented some 20 words in his efforts to explain the gospel.  He realised that he needed to communicate in relevant language, and so combined common words to create new impressions.  Jesus spoke in parables - stories of common events to reveal the truth of the kingdom.  We too need to continually find new and culturally relevant ways to express our faith to the world around us.  It is urgent - a matter of life and death!  And it is a task to which we can all contribute.

October 24, 1993
To the Community Index
To the next article

feedback to the author