Monday Mar 19 2012
A Word to the Wise: Language is no barrier to love
By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
For almost a year now I have served as English ministries pastor at Sacramento Zion Presbyterian church. It is a predominantly Korean speaking congregation and we serve its English speaking members as well as others who attend. It makes for an interesting, multicultural, multiracial mix. It’s just the way it should be. We recently had a home meal/Bible study. The menu included all sorts of foods. Then we went into two different rooms. In one room, Pastor Lee led the Korean speaking group and in the other, I led the English speaking group. They began to sing “The Church’s One Foundation.” I did not recognize the Korean words, but the tune was familiar. It was fitting that we studied 1 Corinthians 1 in which Paul exhorts the believers there to make sure “that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1:10). At that moment it occurred to us that although we have a language barrier, in what matters the most, we are one. And it brought another song to mind from 40 years ago. When I first started in the church, we used to sing, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, and we pray that our unity may one day be restored, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” People will not know we are Christians by our badges, bumper stickers and buildings. Jesus said it best in John 13:35 — “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about fluff and warm feelings and holding hands and singing Kumbayah. The love of God for us is the foundation of our love for each other, and that was ultimately displayed on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18). Not only did Jesus pay the price, but He also showed us the way to live and love. In John 15:12, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” It’s not only a matter of being willing to die for someone else. More important, and more difficult, is the willingness to live for someone else. The motto of Holmes Bible College in Greenville, South Carolina, is “live for others.” Whatever language you speak, let’s all speak the language of love. Reach Tom Rupp at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column is published every week.