Charles Emerson Winchester (the third) was a character on the TV show M*A*S*H that was known for being aloof and pompous. He did not belong in Korea as an army surgeon, he was destined to be chief of surgery at a place like John Hopkins. He made it a point of not fitting in with the rest of the crew because he was a Winchester. While he occasionally showed flashes of humanity, he seemed to make it a point to let everyone know that he was above it all. When Father Mulcahy sought Winchester’s help for some of the war orphans, he ignored the Father – until Christmas Day. On that day, he opened up a present: it was a red toboggan. He went wild. He cried with emotion. It was a reminder of life in Boston. He ran over to Father Mulcahy and pressed money into his hands saying, “Buy the orphans what they need.” Then, thinking better, he pulled out more money and said, “Here, buy them what they don’t need.”
There is something comfortable about the familiar in a strange land. Having traveled overseas, it’s comforting to go someplace and hear English being spoken. I don’t have to be on guard at messing up in a foreign language. I don’t have to rely on an interpreter. It’s freeing. Here in Texas, if a local shop advertises Chicago Style Pizza or Hot Dogs, I’m checking them out. (So far, none have satisfied.) I think God understands the comfort factor in the familiar things of life and so, on the day of Pentecost, He arranged for people to hear the gospel in their own language. “Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’” (Acts 2:7-8)
Given that these folks were world travelers living in that time, they most likely could have heard and understood the gospel were it proclaimed in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek. The Greek language was the fall back method of communication in those days. Each person, however, has their own heart language which is usually the language they grew up with. When God wanted them to hear the good news, He arranged for each person to hear it in their own heart language. I’ve seen people argue about whether this was a miraculous gift of language or a miraculous gift of hearing. The most important part is not whether or not the early believers spoke those unknown (to them) languages or whether the travelers heard the Aramaic in their own language; the miracle is God’s concern for each one of them that included allowing them to hear the gospel in their heart language.
There are some languages that are universal. I remember attending a worship service in Central Asia and hearing the music for a song I knew. The words they sang were different, but I knew, and could sing the song. Perhaps the most important heart language is love. When you treat others with love, they will know it. Two people can both help someone. One will be seen as condescending while the other one will be seen as caring for the person because of the attitude shown by the one helping. When we love others with the love that God showed us, we open opportunities to share the greatest gift of all: the gift of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Most people don’t realize that they need this relationship until they see God’s people making a positive difference in the world. John Lennon didn’t fully comprehend the truth of his words when he wrote the song “All you need is love” for the Beatles. When you get down to it, all we really need is love: the love of God. He makes that love available to each person, and He lets us know about it in our own heart language.
Lord, help me to show Your love to others. Let the people of this world open up to hear of Your great love and let that love change their worlds. Give me the power of Your love in my life so that I can share it with others.