In their own language

On Sunday June 9, we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost in worship. The Festival of Pentecost was an annual festival for Jews during the time of the early church and before. It occurred 50 days after Passover (the word “Pentecost” means fifty), and was a celebration of the harvest and, at the time of the early church, also remembered how God gave Moses the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

It was on this day, then, that the people were remembering how God gave His Word to Moses, that God again gave the Word of the Gospel to people all over the world. In Acts chapter 1 we find out that about 120 believers were gathered in Jerusalem. God sent the Holy Spirit upon these believers, and they began to declare what God had done through the life, death, and resurrection, to people from all over the world in the language of these visitors. Those who heard it were amazed and said these words:

“Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs– we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”  (Acts 2:7-12 NIV)

What this meant is that God was sending the Gospel into every corner of the Roman empire and beyond, using these travelers to carry the message. They had heard it in their own language, and now they would be missionaries.

Jesus continues to send His people out into daily life with the incredible message of forgiveness, hope, life, and salvation. So how do we do that?

It’s really pretty simple. We just have to learn to speak the language of the people around us. The good news is, that for most of us, we will still be speaking in English! What I mean is that we need to speak in ways that people understand. As author Greg Finke says, “It looks a lot like being a friend. It looks a lot like being a good neighbor.” People may not understand the theological terms we use when we describe God. They might not grasp the importance of the Lord’s Supper or know what the word “justification” means.

But they do understand the language of friendship. They do understand what helping and serving look like. And we can do those things, so that, in time, we will be able to speak the Word of the Gospel, to tell them about how much God loves them in Jesus Christ.

Who needs to hear and see that from you? What is the name of one person you know who needs Jesus? Begin praying for him or for her today.

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