He stood in the doorway to my singles’ class … unsure of what to do next. Welcoming him, I motioned to a chair. His name was Wade … and he had never been to church before. But he was lonely and thought maybe he could find some friends in my class. I read between all those lines. Did he already have his eye on one of the young ladies?
As the members of the class filed in, I introduced Wade … with handshakes all around.
The lesson that day was on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Discussion was lively, as various ones spoke of having courage to stand up for what they believed. It was then I noticed Wade’s face. He had no idea who Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were. Therefore, to him, we were speaking a foreign language. Who was King Nebuchadnezzar? Why was he mad at those people? I could just hear the questions in Wade’s head.
Raising my hand for silence, I paused before speaking.
“Wade is new to church. He has never heard this story before. Would someone like to explain to him what we are discussing?”
It was difficult to break it down to the bare facts. Everyone in that room … everyone but Wade … had heard the story many times. I persevered … requesting again and again that the story be broken down even more. I understood this information needed to be dispensed as a child’s story.
After class, I walked with Wade to the hallway.
“Did you understand what that story was all about?”
Embarrassed, he blushed as he apologized for never hearing it before. Not wanting him to feel ashamed, we talked until I felt he was doing better. I asked if we could meet some other time … away from the church … to talk again.
We made an appointment.
Week after week, Wade sat in our adult class as we told children’s stories to him. The class finally understood he couldn’t comprehend our church language.
In our private discussions, Wade would ask questions like, “What does it mean to eat His body and drink His blood? That sounds like a ritual a cult would do.” I agreed. It did sound very unusual.
So many words needed to be explained. Redemption. Salvation. Baptized. Crucified. Foot of the cross. What did these words have to do with religion? What was the difference between religion and being a Christian? The questions went on and on.
I asked Wade if it was OK for me to purchase him some books from the Christian book store … books designed for children … explaining our beliefs. We took one book at a time … one story at a time … sometimes just one word at a time.
Never before had I realized the very specialized language we speak in church.
Next Sunday, as you listen to the sermon … or the discussion in class … try to listen with an outsider’s ear. Would you understand what was being said?
Or would it be a foreign language to you?
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