Lost in the Translation

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

Not long ago Governor Nikki Haley was appointed as the United States ambassador to the U. N. She has the task of carrying the message of our president and our nation to the world.

When Nikki Haley speaks she is translated into the languages of the other ambassadors from all over the planet. In Paul’s day the ambassador would have been required to speak both the language of his king as well as that of the people to whom he or she was sent.

Try now imagining the job God has appointed us to as Christians. We are to not only proclaim but also to translate His message to others. Having worked as a translator myself I thought to leave a few tips on getting His message across.

1) Let the message flow! Simply speaking another language doesn’t entirely equip us to translate. It is too easy to get caught up in focusing on getting every detail perfect. The problem os while we wrestle with nuances the speaker doesn’t stop. We need to just close out our own thoughts and every distraction and flow in the meaning of the heart of the speaker. That is how God wants us to share the heart of the gospel message. We don’t need to understand perfectly every detail. By the time we know it all we’ll be in heaven. Our task is to do the best we can right where we are. Let His message flow and the details well miss will not keep people from understanding. We carry his perfect message in very imperfect jars made of clay!

2) Don’t change the message! There are times when I am not comfortable with what the person for whom I am translating is saying. In the same way we can’t change or leave out the parts of God’s word with which we struggle ourselves. He has called us to carry all of His message to all kinds of people and trust Him with the results.

3) Never stop learning! Just because I can adequately translate despite my imperfect understanding of my second language doesn’t mean I don’t try to improve. I will never know Portuguese like a native but my understanding is far better today than it was a few years ago. We as God’s ambassadors must always be striving to know the language of heaven better. We are called as representatives of the God of the universe to reach our world for Christ. The stakes are eternal. The rewards are immense. How can we do less than our absolute best to be ambassadors that know the language of heaven but we speak it in ways that reaches souls desperately in need of a Savior!

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