Who would’ve ever thought that being articulate would be an impediment to cross-cultural communication? (Read: Talking good makes talking to people who don’t speak good English difficult.) Every week, my life group meets, and we talk about what’s going on in our lives and about part of the book of Mark. The two guys who attend most consistently can understand English reasonably well, but I frequently find myself using words like “obligation” or “redemption.” Those words mean exactly what I want them to mean, but they only result in blank stares. I’m learning that precise language isn’t worth a thing if it can’t be understood.
This became more apparent last night at my life group when a new friend came. I hadn’t met him before, but as our meeting wore on, I realized that he was a Christian. I also came to realize that he’d been hurt by a lot of Christians. He’d encountered Christians who were living in hypocrisy—putting on the Sunday smile that said, “Everything is hunky-dory,” when he well knew it wasn’t. He’d also encountered Christians who, like those Paul warns about in Romans, used the freedom and grace of Jesus to justify continual sin.
“Where is TRUTH?”
“Where is FREEDOM?”
“What is the place of GRACE if it leads to wanton sin?”
These are the questions he’s struggling with, and I realize that helping him may be just as difficult a struggle. In English, I can often enunciate a flowery theological treatise on the virtues of moderation, or on the process of sanctification, but, I PROMISE YOU, my Russian’s not that good yet. The limitations that language puts on the Holy Spirit’s call for all of us to join with Him in comforting the distressed has once again humbled me. It frustrates me, but I thank God for it, and I’m reminded that God will use our weakness to shame the strong so that when we boast we may boast in Him from whom all comfort flows.
To protect his privacy, I’m not going to mention his name, but please pray for my new friend. I don’t believe that God brought him to my life group for nothing.