Are You Speaking the Same Language?
by Logan Judy
To quote the old adage, “it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.” This is especially critical when communicating with someone who does not share your views. In that case, an analogy of translating between different languages is apropos.
When I was in high school, I once had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Philippines. While there, I and others preached and taught the Bible at several small churches, many of them in Manila and the surrounding area. While many Filipinos understand English, we used a translator while preaching to help our message come through. Even having the translator doesn’t completely remove dangerous pitfalls.
One day, I was talking about Paul’s statement that “I count it all rubbish that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). To help give my audience a view of just how strong Paul’s emphasis is, I pointed out that when he says “rubbish,” he is actually referring to human excrement. The next thing I knew, the room of about 50-60 people had erupted into laughter. By speaking with some of our companions later, I gathered that I had unintentionally made a bathroom joke.
Our discussions with our friends and neighbors can result in similar misunderstandings, but the results are usually less comical. Translation between the language of unbelievers and the language of Christians can be tricky business! Here are some tips to help Christians get it right…