A very controversial Bible text is found in Acts 2:1-6: When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
For today, don’t worry about all the details (how, what, now, etc.). Just marvel in this…God gave the followers of Jesus a special ability to communicate with others who had not yet heard the Good News that Jesus came, died, rose and is coming again. God also allowed a special ability for the hearers (for the miracle was not only in the speaking). Wow, God loves us enough to not let language be a barrier from knowing Him.
Have you ever been ‘turned off’ because somebody couldn’t speak ‘your language’? Maybe you have experienced the in-ability to ‘speak the language’ of a teen or a person in a different stage of life. What I am describing is the inability to speak in context.
Context is at least half of the battle when you are trying to communicate to the heart of another person. To contextualize is to speak in a language that comes to life for the hearer. We often fail to ‘get through’, even with the best of words, because we are out of the context of the hearer.
How do we learn of context and learn how to speak within it? We start by asking God to reveal it to us. Then we pay attention. Then, when we feel we have the ability to speak in a way that can be heard…we make sure the other ‘half of the equation’ right…we speak with the love of God. 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Too often, we are missing one of these two equations: love or context. Sometimes we are missing both. Both are a gift from God given to the followers of Jesus so we can communicate God’s heart for people. God still takes our tongues and uses them for His glory.
For you, are you speaking in context and with love where you live, work and play?