I recently made a trip to IKEA, and as I was walking around, I noticed that there are many different ethnic groups and many different languages represented at any given time in that store.
This led me to reflect on what happened in Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit came on the apostles.
Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came and "what looked like tongues of fire appeared" above the apostle's heads. While this was amazing in and of itself, what happens next is even more exciting. The Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in languages that they did not know. People from all over and of all backgrounds and languages were able to understand what the apostles were teaching. People were amazed and excited to be able to hear the gospel in their own language.
Today, Bible translators work hard to make translations for people groups who do not have even a written language. Translators know that when a person hears the gospel for the first time in their native language or "heart language" as missionaries call it, it makes a bigger impact on the people.
While it is important to have the Bible translated into all these different languages, it is also important to understand that right here at home there are people who need the gospel of Jesus in their own heart language.
Dr. Gary Chapman has a book called "The Five Love Languages" that talks about how married couples need to know and understand each other's love language. The idea is that when a couple knows their spouse's love language, they can build a better relationship.
This got me to thinking as I was pondering Acts 2 and all these people listening to the apostles teach about Jesus, maybe we should get to know people's heart language so that we can truly share Christ with them.
When we take time to get to know people and build honest authentic relationships with them, we will come to understand their heart language. Maybe their heart language is "Words of Affirmation," "Quality Time," "Acts of Service" or even "Physical Touch." (Dr. Gary Chapman)
Maybe when we are building these relationships with people, we need to be serving them. Helping them with a problem they may have, or just taking time to be a friend to someone who needs someone to talk to. Or how about just telling someone that you appreciate them. You never know what will open a door to share the love that Jesus has for them.
When we understand their heart language, we understand how to share the gospel of Jesus with them. I am not saying that we are changing the message of Jesus, but we are sharing it in a way that is relevant to them today.
Think about it this way, you have a steak, a hamburger and an all-beef hot dog. All of them come from the same cow but they are all processed and packaged differently. One person may like the steak while the next may like the hamburger the best, and probably the youngest among us will like the hot dog the best. The meat is the same, but the presentation is different so that it appeals to that person.
This is much like sharing Jesus with different people. One person may understand and grab onto one approach while the other may need something totally different. The message stays the same but the way we present it, in the correct heart language, is what is important.
There has been a lot grief given to the millennial generation. I wonder if many people have taken time to stop and get to know their heart language. Have we taken time to understand where they are and what they need? This millennial generation has grown up with divorce rates through the roof, which means some have no idea what it means to be a family.
Millennials have grown up with technology that changes at the drop of a hat, much faster than ever before, which means that they are an instant generation. They have a hard time waiting on things.
As a church, the body of Christ, have we taken time to show the love of the family of God? We need to take the time to be family that they have never had. As the family of God, we need to come together and instead of bashing this generation, we need to encourage them. Show them that we care about them, in practical ways.
When they need help with their cars, we help them. When they need help with their kids, we as a church step up and are the aunts and uncles, the grandmas and grandpas that will lovingly help. We need to show them that they are loved in a way that is relevant. Then when we understand their heart language, we can share Jesus with them in a way that is real and a way that they understand, much like in Acts 2.
This generation is the generation that will spread the gospel to the lost. This generation is the generation that will teach and reach the next generation.
Tollie Rogers is the pastor at Ascent Christian Church. He can be reached at 541-362-1025.
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