When I was in the army, I spent most of my time in tanks and even thought the tank crew was in very close proximity, the noise was so loud, the only way to effectively communicate was through the intercom system with the microphone and speakers imbedded in the tanker’s helmet.
My first gunner was a young man from Boston. He had an incredibly thick accent. The problem was, he believed I was the one with a strange accent.
Everyone in Texas knows we don’t have accents. The rest of the world just speaks the wrong way.
The first time we took the tank downrange; the young man from Boston had a very hard time understanding my instructions in the fire command.
Later that day, as we stood outside the tank, evaluating the run, he said, “Sir, you’ve got to help me understand what you are saying. I don’t speak Texan.”
His comment has always stuck with me.
Theoretically, he and I both spoke English, but we had a hard time communicating. We had a difficult time understanding each other. I wonder if the same can be said about the Christian faith?
When someone visits our church for the first time, will they understand why we sing, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come….”? Will they be confused as congregation of the United Methodist Church recites the Apostle’s Creed and affirms our belief in the holy catholic church? Will we be effectively communicating? What if someone doesn’t speak Church?
Our greatest task is to communicate God’s love effectively and efficiently to a world that is filled with chatter, clutter, and needless noise.
When the angel tells Philip to go to the middle of nowhere and wait, he doesn’t know what’s about to happen. Then, as chariot carrying an Ethiopian official rolls by, Philip sees the man is reading from the prophet Isaiah. He asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I unless someone guides me?”
Philip climbed into the chariot, explained that God loved the man so much, Jesus died for him, and baptized him. (Acts 8:26-40)
This happened because Philip took the time to explain what happened.
Two thousand years later, our job is to explain what happened. And when we do this, we change lives, make disciples for Jesus, and bring light where there is darkness.
It’s not rocket science. It’s simply letting people know God loves them. That’s our true language.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I pray I communicate your love by my words and actions. Fill my spirit with joy, my mouth with praise, and my mind with wisdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Tell someone about Jesus. That’s why you are here.
Also, just for the record, my next tank gunner was from Louisiana. His Cajun accent was hard to understand. He thought I was the one with an accent. Go figure.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.