Monday, January 31, 2011

Tell Me Your Name, Again

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

There was once a young man named John who came to know his Savior Jesus Christ.  As he matured in stature, so did his zeal grow for his Lord.  His desire to serve Him became so great that he made the decision to take the Gospel message to the earth’s dark corners where it had never before been heard.

“I will become a missionary!” he exuberantly proclaimed to his family and friends.

And so, with his satchel containing only bare essentials in one hand and his King James Bible in the other, John set out on his journey.

Upon reaching his destination, the news of John’s arrival spread quickly among the native people who resided there.  They had never seen a man like John and their curiosity drew them to his humble dwelling.  Before long, trust was established, the language barrier was broken by a translator John employed, and he began to attempt to fulfill his purpose for being in their midst.

Many months went by, until one day as John was sitting under the shade of a tree, he noticed a small gathering of people observing him from a distance.  They stood  in a small circle with one man in the center who, because of his great age, appeared to hold prominence in their group.  John could sense excitement in their conversation as they gestured towards him and then back to their apparent leader.  Breaking from the group, the old man boldly approached John and sat down beside him.

John quickly motioned for his translator, excited over the prospect of finally being able to share what he knew.  Slowly and painfully, but not to be deterred, John began his first conversation with the people to which he had come to bring salvation.

“I am John,” he said, pointing at his chest.

Understanding John’s gesture, the man spoke his name, pointing with his finger at his own chest.

John quickly realized he could not pronounce the man’s difficult name and said, “We must give you a Christian name.”  Pointing to him, John said, “I shall call you ‘Moses’, for you led your people to hear me.”

Puzzled after hearing the interpreter relay John’s words, the man repeated the name he had first given John, this time pounding his fist on his thin chest.  Undeterred, John insisted on the leader’s new name, ‘Moses”, until the man sighed and simply shrugged his shoulders.  Turning his head back to his people who still huddled a distance away, he was once again encouraged as they nodded and gestured with their hands.

“We have come to hear about the One God,” he said with boldness through the interpreter.  Motioning to the Bible John held, he continued, “You carry with you His talk.  We were told long ago He would come and explain His talk.  Please tell it to us.”

Taken aback by the man’s words, John hurriedly opened his King James Bible and began to read from the Book of John.  This sudden development and his familiarity with Scripture swept him along for several minutes, unmindful of the silence that surrounded him.  Suddenly coming out of his euphoria, John realized his translator had not conveyed anything he had read.  Looking up to the face of the man, he saw only confusion.  The tribal leader anxiously glanced back and forth between the two men, waiting to hear an explanation from the interpreter.

“What is wrong?  Why are you not translating?” John demanded.

“It is too difficult to translate,” John’s servant replied.

“What do you mean, ‘too difficult’?”  John exclaimed.  “It is the Word of God in the King’s English, which you understand!  It should not be ‘too difficult’ to tell this man what it is saying!”

“But there are no words in their language that equal what is being said in the King’s English.  It must be translated differently.”

“Well, then!  We will teach them the King’s English so that they can understand it,” John declared.

“What am I to tell him and his people now?  Are they to wait longer for what they have come today to hear?” the servant asked.

Leaping to his feet, John angrily replied, “Tell them that they must wait to hear it!  It would be an abomination to God to have it translated in their language!  The King James Bible is the only authorized and inspired Word of God and to change it would be heresy.   They must learn the King’s English for it to be given to them!”

Glancing at the village leader’s expectant face, the interpreter quietly said, “Then allow me to read it so that I may tell them of the One God and explain His talk to them.”

John was unexpectedly and abruptly overwhelmed by what was occurring, and the words his interpreter had just spoken pierced his heart.  What he had desired and waited for so long was being barred from happening by his own arrogance.  Looking down at the Bible he gripped in his hand, he realized how foolish he had become and how he was also preventing these people from hearing what they were told would be spoken to them.  He had no idea how long they had waited; how many generations had passed on the promise to other generations as they sat around a fire, recalling the oral stories that their elders had also been told.  At last, the time had come for them and John saw he was stubbornly standing in God’s way.

Convicted, John slowly sat back down under the tree’s shade.  He looked into the eyes of the two men who patiently waited to hear from the Book he held in his hands.  One was waiting to receive it in order to pass it to the other who was there to hear it in his own language.  He raised his head to gaze upon the people who had accompanied their elder and who anxiously waited to hear what he had been told so that they could carry the long-expected One God’s talk back to others in their village.

Turning his attention back the old man who patiently waited, John softly said, “Please.  So that I may be able to speak it, tell me your name, again.”


Additional reading:

1Cor 1:4-6
1Cor 2:1-3
Col 4:5-7


Cory R. said...

Thank you so much for this article. It's rather funny. I was just lamenting my selfishness to the Lord earlier. It always amazes me just how deceitful my heart really is. It's amazing how easily even good deeds, such as putting up bulletin board displays at the church, serving in the nursery or at our food bank, or posting comments on Facebook can become corrupted vehicles that serve my desire for approval and esteem, or pride. How easily I forget that "to live is Christ," "He must increase and I must decrease," and that "whoever loves his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."
Like John in the story, I have been so foolish for exchanging living water for broken cisterns that can never satisfy, for putting myself first, and therefore becoming a stumbling block to others. How often I need to remind myself that the only thing that can truly satisfy is Jesus, and that His wisdom is higher than mine. How often I need to remember to not just do things, like serving in the nursery or cooking my family dinner, but to humbly obey and trust and love and place my whole self in the offering plate first. My food is to do His will, to do all things to the glory of God, to pray and to preach at all times (if necessary, using words), and to be the Bible that the lost world may read, not to serve myself and insist on my way.
So, here I have written this great big long post just to tell you how glad I am that you posted this article and how it has reminded me to deny myself and to get myself out of the way so that the Lord can work.

Thank you again, Karen!

Anonymous said...

This is a great! Thanks for posting this kind of article. I love reading articles related to God. Because I know that I will learn more about Him.

Thank you for the Word of God!

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