February 07, 2012

Practicing Pentecost

Genesis 11:1-9

Utterly amazed, they asked: “… How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?”
Acts 2:7-8


When we work cross-culturally, language differences can become a barrier to communication. We miss a word’s nuance, or we struggle with an expression that is difficult to translate. I once spent much of a day reassuring an international colleague that we would “figure out” a particular ministry challenge—only to discover at the end of the day that he didn’t have a clue what that expression meant.

Yet in spite of linguistic differences, I find that as I meet Christians from other cultures, we have an understanding of each other that transcends our challenges with language. Why? Because we understand the one Word that transcends all words—the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. In our common relationship with Jesus Christ, we are drawn into a relationship of love and understanding that breaks down walls of misunderstanding that language barriers so often create.

The division at Babel was undone at Pentecost. Now, all peoples hear the same gospel, and they are better able to understand each other.

Whom in your community is God nudging you to reach with the gospel? Perhaps language difference makes you hesitate. Practice your own Pentecost as you reach out with the good news.

Lord, we crave community, yet we find it so hard to establish. Help us to receive it as part of your wonderful Pentecost gift, by which we are woven together into a fellowship of grace in Christ. Amen.

About the author — Bob Heerspink

Dr. Robert Heerspink was director of Back to God Ministries International from 2006 until 2011, when he passed away. He had previously pastored several Christian Reformed churches. Bob loved to write and was a frequent contributor to the Today devotional.

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