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In Matthew 1:22-23 we learn that Jesus is also to be known as Immanuel, translated, “God with us.” Fitting, since Jesus left heaven to live among us, to take on flesh and blood and move into the neighborhood.
It is fascinating to me that God wants to be with us. We see it in the Garden of Eden and again with Jesus. One day, in heaven, we will be together again.
This theme of “God with us” is relevant to our discussion on which version of the Bible to use because God made some very clear decisions when it came to writing his word.
- God used sinful human beings to write it. He could have just dropped it out of heaven.
- God chose to use the language of those people to write it in. Again, airmail was an option. Afterall he is God.
- God translated the Bible through the centuries (again through people). He didn’t have to translate his word. Two other options would have been to keep the original languages as the primary world language OR to make us learn those languages in order to read Scripture. He chose option 3, translation.
Now, translation is key, because it again points to “God with us” right where we are at. If God were not alright with translation, we would need to learn Ancient Greek and Hebrew, a big obstacle which would definitely feel more like “God almost with us.”
God really cares about language. The impact language has on one’s understanding of who God is and how he feels about them is extroardinary.
A friend of mine told me a story about a minister she had met at her church. He and his family serve overseas in a remote village. The language spoken there is very difficult and it has taken years for him to learn it. Only a small number of people speak the language, and they are a tiny minority group at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder of their region.
The minister was able to get help learning the language from a local, a young man and his sister. Of course, through the process the minister became acquainted with the whole family. When visiting with them he would pray, initially in English because he could not speak their language. The young man would interpret for his family.
After multiple years, the minister was finally ready to try and pray in the language of the family. They had invited him to a wedding and he was visiting afterwards with the family.
It came time to go and as usual, he asked if he could pray. This time he prayed in their language. The mother of the family was completely shocked and the minister took notice. At first, he thought he may have made a mistake, perhaps saying something he didn’t mean to say. He asked his friend if that was the problem. It was not.
Finally the mother gained her composure and expressed her shock that the minister could pray to his God in her language. She thought that this God could only hear prayers in English. How could He hear and understand a prayer in her language? In other words, how could God understand and know the language of such a low esteemed minority group?
The minister took the opportunity to explain that God created all people and all languages. He shared that God would hear and understand anyone’s prayer in any language. This was new to the mother and difficult for her to understand.
I love this story. It illustrates the power language has on our ability to know and follow God. The story blows me away.
Some of you would suggest that there is only one version of the Bible we should use. Let’s talk about this for a minute. Since you are reading this blog, you probably speak English. Most likely it is your first language and many of you only speak English. If that describes you, I have a question.
Which version of the Bible would you recommend to someone who only speaks Spanish? What if you had the ability to send someone in the Middle East a Bible and they did not speak English, which version would you send them? What about a villager in a remote location in Africa or Asia?
Correct. You would find a translation from the original language into their language. Depending on the language, you might have multiple options. For other languages, you may only have one option. There are a lot of languages for which you would not have an option because the Bible is not translated into their language yet.
Another thing to consider would be the education level of this person. What if they can’t read? Would that determine which Bible you send them?
You get my point. God wants to speak to us in our heart language. He is “God with us” not “God almost with us.” One should have a version of Scripture that speaks to their heart.
Now back to English. Which version of the Bible should you use? You should use the one that speaks to your heart. Reading the Bible is not about increasing information, although that happens. It is about becoming like Jesus. This happens as we understand and begin following after Jesus.
If you disagree with me, no problem. You believe there is only one version of the Bible that you (and I and everybody else) should read. I am alright with this. I won’t even tell you that you are wrong. The fact is you just need to throw out your English Bible and go learn Ancient Greek and Hebrew. If you are only going to allow for one Bible version, this is the only option you have.
If you are still reading this post, you probably fall into one of two categories. 1) You love it and plan to share it with someone to make a point. 2) You are angry, you hate me and you completely disagree. For those in group 1, calm down. Don’t go picking fights. I don’t typically see any good come from debates. Take a deep breath and just go read your Bible.
For those in category 2, I understand why you are angry. I would ask that you just consider the following:
- Is Jesus “God with us” or “God almost with us?”
- How do we remove barriers to people coming to know and follow Jesus?
My prayer is that this would encourage you in your walk with Christ and help you as you go and make disciples. Blessings.
pic courtesy of bing / pinterest.com
When I saw Him from a distance, I ran and followed after Him. I believed all that I needed was just a touch ~ of His hem.
For years I have been shunned, turned away by those around me, so I hid myself in the crowd praying my shame ~ He wouldn’t see.
As He passed by I reached down, and took from Him, my cure for this man that they call Jesus I knew He’d heal, if my faith was pure.
He stopped and called me His daughter, when my belief in Him I revealed and from that very moment from my disease I was healed.
He bid to me to go in good comfort, saying my faith had made me whole, I believe as I touched His hem . . . He imparted His favor onto my soul.
There is a moral to my story, never be too ashamed of your illness or sin for Jesus still heals our weaknesses if you just let Him touch ~ from within!
~ posted with permission, Copyright 2013 Deborah Ann Belka
For five years I partnered with Cru in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. It was a fabulous experience and I learned a lot. Two of the many great perks to working with Cru are 1) being connected to extremely creative people and 2) having access to a lot of amazing resources.
Several years ago, in California, they started using Groups of 3 (G3s) on campus. Part of the reason for this is because they had limited staff and Cru is passionate about reaching every student on every campus. Essentially these are student-led discipleship groups that help students get into God’s Word, pray, share their faith and reach others on their campus.
It is a simple concept that can be adopted to any ministry situation. Perhaps you are in the corporate world, or a youth minister or you work for a small business. Simply adopt the G3 concept for the minstry God has given to you. It is very easy to get together with 2 other people and facilitate discussion around Scripture. Just grab the G3 information here and change it for your context.
What is the number one obstacle you have found to opening Scripture with others outside of regular church activities? What are you going to do to overcome this obstacle?
Currently I am reading through the Seven Signs of John with some friends on Facebook . This past week we read John 5:1-17 and it led to some great discussion. Here is the text followed by the question I’d like to tackle.
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic[ called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
Question: What about the others that were there, did Jesus heal any of them? If so, why aren’t they included? If not, why not?
Great questions. Why did Jesus only heal the one guy? Yes, it is possible that Jesus did other healing and John just didn’t mention it. However, at some point there had to have been someone who didn’t get healed. For the sake of discussion, and to stick to one question, let’s say he just healed the one guy.
I don’t see Jesus apologizing for decisions he made. He had a lot of people that followed him (over a hundred, and at least 5,000 at one sermon), yet he only chose 12 disciples. Were there others that wanted in on that group? Probably. Then he decided to have an inner circle of 3 disciples. Awkward! That is not fair.
Then he made the decision to heal people. He did not heal everyone. There were still people hurting.
The same is true today. We are inundated with needs, prayer requests, hurting people, hurting countries. All the information is overwhelming and we have three options:
- Try to help everybody. Doing this leads us to exhaustion and we end up helping no one.
- Help nobody. This is very tempting and easy. Since we can’t help everyone who is hurting, we choose to help no one.
- “Do for one what you wish you could do for all,” as Andy Stanley says.
You can’t help every homeless person. You can’t serve in every nonprofit. You can’t adopt every child. But don’t let that stop you from helping one person, one organization, one family or one child. Then do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.
Jesus could have healed everyone on earth with one snap of his fingers. However, he chose to heal only some, and usually it involved a personal interaction between him and the other person. Perhaps Jesus doesn’t get overwhelmed like we do, but there is something to be said for focusing and doing for one what you wish you could do for all.
Question for you. When overwhelmed by all the needs around you, do you tend to try to help everybody or help nobody? Kind of a personal question, I know. Would love to hear your response in the comments.
Second question. Who are you going to choose to do for one what you wish you could do for all?
pic courtesy of bing/vimeo.com
Lover of the poor, defender of the needy, sanctuary of the rejected: for those who suffer injustice today, for men and women who cannot provide for their families,
and for whole communities who fear today and have no hope for tomorrow, we offer longings of our hearts in prayer.
We seek for them, O God, the gifts that are dear to us: food for the table, drink for the soul, shelter in the night and open arms to welcome us.