Every day here at Pipe Spring National Park we get visitors who are from countries beside the United States. Touring the “Grand Circle” is a very popular vacation, especially among those from outside the U.S. Most of the foreign visitors who come speak passable English, but sometimes we have a hard time understanding each other. Nevertheless, I do my best to explain because I want people to understand our story. Understanding can be hard when someone is speaking a foreign language.
Of course, thinking about this idea of understanding made me think about God and our knowledge of God. If anyone speaks a foreign language it is God! Even though I learned Hebrew and Greek in seminary, they are not the natural language of God. Even God’s thought processes are so different from our own, it is a miracle that we ever understand anything God tells us.
For instance, God tells us to love one another. How are you doing with that? It seems like a really basic, easy to understand thing to tell people. But we pick and choose who we will love. We avoid people we see as different. We close off our lives to people we disagree with and make assumptions about people based on where they live, the color of their skin, and their life choices. Our understanding of this most basic commandment makes it seem to be spoken in a foreign language.
And don’t get me started on the ways we pick and choose what to obey from God’s words. There are things that “Christians” do that absolutely enrage me. And I’m sure there are things that I do that makes others question whether I understand anything about God at all.
Understanding God’s words and God’s commandments can be hard. Understanding what God wants us to do in certain situations can lead to lots of disagreements with other Christians. But if we want to continue to grow as Christians, we need to work on learning the language of God. Not speaking in our all-too-human language, but learning the words that God teaches us. I’m sure our inability to understand was a frustration to Jesus who heard God’s language so clearly.
Perhaps, in order to understand the language of God, we need to speak softer. Perhaps we need to listen more and talk less. Maybe we need to rephrase our harsh words of criticism in order to learn the language of love. Understanding the language of God is difficult, but we can do it if we listen to him carefully enough.