Crosspoint Church | Georgetown, TX

Do you understand?

Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 6 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Culturally Relevant”  (LISTEN HERE).

Have you ever found yourself in a setting in which the language spoken around you was a language you didn’t understand?  Even if the setting is not a foreign country, the language of teenagers, northerners, southerners, etc. can all have a different dialect which at times we ask, “What are they saying?”

Since the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, communication between people has been a challenge.  Even if one knows the words being said, one may not always know what it means.

When we think about communicating the message about Jesus in a real and understandable way to the people of our culture around us, we must communicate clearly AND make sure they understand what it means.

An anecdote from Scripture comes to mind that illustrate this point (Actually the key verse for this value).  The first is from the book of Nehemiah, chapter 8.  Nehemiah was used by God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem as the period of captivity later in Israel’s history came to an end.  Upon completion of the wall, the Book of the Law (aka the Bible at the time) was located and for the first time in many years, it was read in public for all the people to hear.

The challenge? There were people that didn’t understand Hebrew or Aramaic and perhaps were more familiar with the language of the Persians or the Babylonians as they had spent the last 60-70 years there.  But to ensure that the words would not be lost to lack of understanding, here’s what the helpers of Ezra the priest did: (Nehemiah 8:7-8)

The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

The Levites did two important things: They made the word of God CLEAR and gave the MEANING so the people UNDERSTOOD what was being read.

We live in a biblically illiterate culture.   The Bible used to be used in grammar school to help kids learn to read.  Just yesterday morning, I heard a dad call into a radio show and say a teacher in his daughter’s school forbade his child from reading the Bible during lunch (He did approach the principal and explain the “separation clause” does not forbid a student from personally reading the Bible at a public school.).  People used to go to Christian churches, now over 20% have no desire to attend a church.  People know the Bible as much as it is quoted by movies, media, and politicians…and that is a poor representation of the Bible’s content at best.

So if you have been blessed to be in the “Bible culture” for many years, using Bible words like “salvation,” “righteousness,” “sin,” “glory of God” or referring to Bible stories or biblical characters may receive a blank stare from people.

We must NOT assume people know what the Bible says are rejecting it.  I assume people DON’T know what the Bible says because they never have been honestly presented its content.

A good way to know what a person knows or understands is by asking questions when in a spiritual conversation.

“What do you know about who Jesus is?” (Let’s not assume a presentation of Jesus’ death on the cross is known by everyone.)

“How do you define ‘love’?” (Who knows, until you ask someone to define love.  Our culture has many ways ‘love’ is used.)

“What was your experience with your father?” (How hard might it be for someone to understand the love of our heavenly Father when they have been abused by their earthly father.)

Making sure a person understands the word of God starts with asking a person what the understand about the Word of God.  Now we have a starting point to “make the Word clear and give its meaning” so they can understand.

Apply:  Think through a biblical truth you have come to know and love.  Now think through how you would communicate that truth/story/promise to someone who has had no exposure to the Bible.  (Not always easy!)

Prayer: Thank you Father for people in our lives who have helped make your Word clear and understandable to us.  We especially thank you Holy Spirit, for opening our hearts and minds to understand and believe the wonderful truth the Bible is.  AMEN.

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