February 09, 2016

Speaking the Same Language

One of my church visits included visiting a Spanish speaking church that was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. I don’t speak Spanish, but the temporary sign written in Spanish on the locked front door had an apparent time change to 12:15. Thank goodness Arabic numerals are universal and 12:15 doesn’t come in Spanish and English. John tells us that love also has universal properties that transcends cultures and language barriers, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----Generalities are as real as particulars. But since a generality can not be grasped and toted around, or because they do not convey focus upon specifics, we tend to dismiss them as ethereal byproducts of what we do and speak. The enormous error of dismissing the meaning of generalities is that they define the categories of everything we say and do. Moreover, as you’ve pointed out, they are universally understood. Infants around the world all alike smile back at who smiles at them, or frown back. Goodness, gentleness, kindness, mercy, etc shown in either action or facial expression is understood without words.
-----Words are for expressing particulars. Therefore, they do not express generalities well. And since language makes up such a large portion of the stream of consciousness, the general drift of events, circumstances, and situations often flows by our conscious awareness without effecting either understanding or decisions. Yet generality carries our behavior in tow, almost as if against our own will, because the large part of us, our sub-consciousness, operates in generalities which express its make-up into both our actions and our streams of consciousness.
-----This is why language barriers are so dangerous. Emotions and attitudes shift according to generalities perceived regardless of language or intellect. But language and intellect both particularize emotions and attitudes according to our own familiarities and biases. This is ineffective, because our self is only a portion of any situation we are in. And usually we are not the larger portion, nor the most significant. Emotions and attitudes need to become articulated by the actual circumstances and all personalities embedded within any situation of the moment. So we must train to communicate on the level of generalities, too.
-----Simply because an emotion can be articulated in terms of some particular does not mean the generality which drove the emotion had anything to do with that same particular. The generality may have emerged from something entirely different which then bases actions and decisions upon misunderstanding. And misunderstanding is the stuff of error, hostility, murder, and war.
-----It is more important to know how to communicate in the universal language of generalities than it is to know a particular language. Therefore the “thou shalts” of the Bible moved from how many times to wave a sheaf of grain on which full moon of the year to “…outdo one another in showing honor…” “Welcome one another…as Christ has welcomed you,” “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” then “[speak] only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” (Rom 12:10; Rom 15:7; Col 3:15; Eph 4:29) The particulars of our thoughts and expressions and words and actions need to be shaped by and given meaning within the generalities of godliness since “…[we] have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” (Col 3:9b-10)
-----This is the unity to which we have been called, rather than to some elusive unity of theology, ideology, or that age old -ology of “our vision for the church”. The Bible has a vision of its own for the church, and that vision is known through the Bible’s generalities, which generalities are also the integrity of our individual souls, staying us around faithful reproductions of our Lord’s image.

Love you all,
Steve Corey