Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Language of God

This notion that God speaks in human language really bothers some persons, even some Christians. It's hard for us to wrap our minds around the idea that the Old Testament is just written in regular Hebrew; it's not some kind of special holy God-language that's a new thing. It's just the language the people used. The same with the New Testament - it's hard for us to fathom that it's just 'regular' Greek. 

And here's why: we want to believe that we can know something about God. You can learn a lot about someone by the way he or she talks. We know that. And we think that if we can uncover God's language, then we're going to learn something about the essence of Him that will change the way that we love Him. 

And, I think, we really just want Him to be bigger than us. We want His language to be bigger than our language because if it is, then we'll know that He really is God. We'll know that He really is who He says He is. We won't have to worry so much about whether or not we're making God in our image if our starting point is not that He looks so much like us. 

But what if...what if He doesn't look like us so much as we look like Him? 

And what if...what if what we learn about God from His language is the deep love that He has for us, a love so deep that He's always been a God who has spoken in our language?

That is, honestly, one of the things that I love about God. I love that He has always come to us in our own language, that we don't have to learn something totally new to understand Him or to get to know Him or to communicate with Him. He's not couched in some secret set of syllables that we have to spend our lives deciphering or figuring out. 

Rather, He speaks to us in words that we already know and then - and then - He calls on our hearts to learn them in a new way. He calls on our hearts, not our tongues, to change in response to Him. He takes these words that are just words, just regular ol' words that we use, and He changes them into a holy language in our vernacular, by His heart. And then, these so-called common words become the something more that we've been looking for from the very beginning. 

In other words, He doesn't wait until we understand Him to love us. He loves us first. And by that love, we come to understand Him. 

Put another way, God comes to us on our own terms and then teaches us His. 

That's why it doesn't bother me at all to start with the Hebrew not as the language of God, but as the language of God's people. As a human tongue that takes on a holy flair. As a common language that becomes anything but when it gets into our hearts and calls us into something holy. That's the beauty of God. That's the goodness of Him. That's His grace. 

Which is why, to wrap things up relatively neatly, we have to be so careful about what we let others tell us about the 'Word' of God, what we're supposed to believe and not believe and how we can understand it and how we can't and how this word doesn't mean what we think it means but that one can't mean anything different and so on and so forth, as though this is some kind of cryptic language of a God we cannot possibly understand without translation. Because that's not our God. That's not how He's ever worked, not once. 

Our God speaks to us in our language. He always has. And that means that every one of us, every single one of us, is able to understand what He's saying. And we cannot let anyone take that away from us. 

Whether He has literal hands or not. 

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