Thursday, October 13, 2016

Spell It Out


One of our Sunday missionaries serves in Thailand. When he came to the platform to speak, he began in Thai. No, we did not understand one word. He did give a description of the language – not as detailed as the Wikipedia explanation:  44 consonant letters, 15 vowel symbols that combine into at least 28 vowel forms, and four tone diacritics. It is a writing system in which each consonant may invoke an inherent vowel sound and are written horizontally, left to right, with vowels arranged in positions (or combination of positions) around the corresponding consonant. That’s the written language – speaking it requires a variety of tones.

I took Spanish in high school and for a year in college. I use a minimum amount of it today. I cannot imagine learning a language with a complex alphabet with tonal requirements to explain something that is necessary to save a life, much less explain doctrine.

Even though of us who accept Christ’s message to a people who lived by God’s law:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

How do spell out the importance to Jews of the Mosaic law and its relationship to the two commandments Jesus says are the most important? How do we spell that out to people without the background we have when we don’t live it ourselves?

Less than a century later, John was still trying to get this message across to new Christians, spelling it out to them in a letter:

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1 John 2:7-10 KJV)

John didn’t write that because people were loving so well.  He wrote to spell out what they had been told but were not practicing. We would do well to spend time considering where we are in that love commandment. Studying what Jesus did and said; who He spent time with and why; when He prayed and what He asked. Then spend time in Acts, seeing how His disciples applied His teachings.

Move on to the epistles – spending time with Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, including chapter 13. Read that substituting our American concept of benevolence, which includes affection – a depth of love – not the charity of a tax deduction. Paul tells us that without that feeling of love, we are nothing:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV)

Everyone one of us needs to spell out our love of God and our fellowman. How good is your spelling? I'll admit mind needs correction.

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