I have been in French speaking Quebec for the last week. Language has not been too much of an issue, despite my fluency in French having deteriorated in recent years, because I rarely visit France these days. The fact that the French spoken in Quebec seems rather different to the French spoken in France hasn’t helped my confidence in conversing with the locals in their own tongue. Why can’t they speak French French? Or English English?
While many residents of Quebec speak excellent English, there are those who do not, including the taxi driver who drove me to the airport. My ability to converse with him in French was adequate for the journey, but we could not have held a lengthy conversation with any degree of mutual understanding. In a way I feel ashamed that I am fluent in only one language.
Unfortunately, language is also a problem for Christians, most of whom speak a different dialect to the rest of the world, and seem completely unable to communicate the gospel message effectively. While it could be argued that those who do not share our faith choose not to listen, I would suggest that the responsibility is ours rather than theirs. God gave us a gift that we should be able to share. If we don’t know the words then what can we do?
I guess it would help if our faces displayed our faith. Are we radiant? After Moses had spent time in God’s presence his face glowed so much that he had to cover it with a veil! What do we look like after we have spent time in God’s presence?
What about our thoughts? Perhaps our faces portray what we are thinking rather than what we should be thinking. Right now I am feeling irritated by a noisy child in a business class lounge at the airport. My face probably shows it! After all, I have never imposed my children on others in this way! But what should I be thinking?
And what about our words when they do fall out of our mouths? Is it us speaking or is it God speaking through us? Do we stop to ask Him what we should say?
Finally, what language is spoken in our churches, on Sunday, and during the week? Is it understandable? Does it attract or does it repel? Is there an overpowering sense of the love and presence of God, or is there just an empty space where He should be?
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded,they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord. (Exodus 34: 29-35 NIV)