If you had a big van with only two seats in the front and a bench seat in the back, and in between there was nothing but carpeted open floor, it could be challenging to carry on a conversation. It would be almost impossible when the windows were open. Can you imagine trying to communicate from back to front and front to back? The person's lips would be moving, but you probably would have no idea what was being said. In that van, it wouldn't matter how loud you talked, how sincere you were, or how important your words were. The other passengers couldn't hear what you were saying.
In Matthew 13 of the Bible, Jesus says, "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up" (verses 3-4). That seed never stood a chance. In verse 19 Jesus explains that "when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart." This doesn't say they didn't want the Gospel or that they rejected it. It says they didn't understand it.
There have never been as many Christians who have as much Christianity as we do. We have Christian everything, but we are surrounded by post-Christian neighbors, friends, and coworkers who don't know there's a Gospel, don't ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject, and who don't understand our meetings or our language.
Why are we so disconnected from each other? It's easy to say, "Oh, they're rejecting the Lord." Are they rejecting the Lord, or are they rejecting our Christian language? They don't know what our words mean. It's like a mission field where the missionaries speak in their own language instead of the native language. They don't understand the words sin, believe, born again, accept Christ, or personal Savior. It's like the scene in the wind-whipped van. They see our lips moving, but they haven't a clue as to what we are saying. It doesn't matter how loudly we present the Gospel, how sincere we are, or how life-or-death the information is. They just can't figure out what we're trying to say.
Since we do have a life-or-death message, and since we have a life-or-death responsibility to get it out, we have to translate the message - not just transmit it. To translate the Gospel means to put it into their words and go the extra mile to communicate it so they will understand. There are three challenges.
- Love lost people in their language and be in the places that matter to them. Find needs they have in their lives and help meet those needs so they know you love them in Christ.
- Live for Christ in their language. Be a better employee because you are a Christian. Be a better employer, neighbor, son, daughter, mom, or dad. Do the things that will show them the difference Christ makes in a way that will matter to them.
- Speak the Gospel in their language. Since relationships are so important, talk about the Gospel as life's most important relationship. This is a relationship you're supposed to have, you don't have because of sin, and you can have because of Jesus, but one you must choose.
Make sure you translate the Gospel. Don't just shout it across the bridge to lost people. Many who desperately need Jesus are at the other end, unable to understand. It's too important for us to not get through. Will you move across that gap?