It is amazing how some things can spark a thought. Thoughts like gasoline are not in and of themselves flammable, but just like in gasoline, it is the fumes that are able to be sparked. That is what this is. A spark from the fumes of a passing thought that I have been thinking for quite some time; however, until now, I was not quite able to articulate until now.
What was the source of this spark’s ignition? Three letters: e s l. Where I saw them, I do not know. Whether it was how the letters sat or their visible arrangement or juxtaposition I know not either. What I do recognize is the preoccupation I have had with these letters over the past few hours. They were like the distant dream that is right on the tip of your memory – important, fleeting, and almost tangible. Then it hit me, a move of my overactive imagination giving feet – no wings – to an idea that has been following me. Believers need to learn to articulate the language of the New Birth that they have been born into via salvation in Christ by His grace through faith.
ESL generally refers to “English as a Second Language”, specifically referencing the means by which a non-native English speaker comes about learning this second language. For Believers, this second language is one that – despite popular consensus – comes natural. Scripture attests to that. In John 4:39 we see that “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” In Acts 9: , we see a born again Saul: “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” When people encounter Christ, today just as 2,000 years ago, they are changed. In that beginning, it is not highly articulate – unless you are Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, an Apostle – but effective nonetheless. Just like those who don’t speak English from birth can express certain things, needs, etc. Believers are wired for evangelism, just like human beings are wired with certain needs that can be communicated via various methods.
The passage of Scripture that comes to mind as far as evangelism becoming to the Believer as his/her native language is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
 ”Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In this, the Shema, we have what Christ referred to as the Great Commandment. Loving the Lord God with all that one has, with all that one is made of. And this love is characterized by being on one’s heart. It is characterized by an essential preoccupation with this love. Just as fresh love does to a person. For those of you who have met the love of your lives, the peas to your carrots, you know that preoccupation. Yet Luke tells us (Luke 14:25-33) that our preoccupation (let’s break form and call it what is supposed to be – worship) with the Lord is to outweigh and overshadow all other loves so that those loves appear as nothing more than hatred.
Our problem as Believers: our love for the Lord often appears non-existent.
The Solution: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Simple. Eloquent. Beautiful. Commanding. Engrossing.
Just like there are seemingly countless how-to manuals and articles on how to fall in love or back in love with your spouse, the same need is recognized here. We either need to fall in love with Christ who “first loved us” (1 John 4:19), or repent of our stagnancy and, likely, our idolatry, turning to Christ, our Bridegroom. When we are enraptured with the love of that relationship, we cannot help but for it to be on our hearts. We will not be able to keep from teaching it to our children or talking about it when we are doing everything we do or wear it as something bound to our bodies. We will simply be His “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20) as we were recreated to be.
This is where the ESL analogy is furthered. ESL students are not hobbyists who would just like to be able to say they have the ability to speak English. The students I am referring to are learning out of a necessity that they are living in. Imagine yourself, English-speaker, moving suddenly to Uzbekistan. If your knowledge of Uzbekistan is akin to my own, you would have to do a Google search to find out what language(s) you would need to be proficient in to survive there – to communicate. Your Google search would afford you the same results that mine did. You would need to speak Uzbek or at least Karakalpak (which is regional understood). It would be important to learn to communicate certain things to be able to live there. You would not be able to get by on your American stubbornness, waiting for the people to all learn English to communicate with you. You would need to know how to say simple things. Asking for directions would be immensely difficult, I would imagine. But you would learn. Yes, you would manage. Necessity would drive you. You would be able to ask “Where is the store” and “pass the [native Uzbekan dish]” in no time flat. But where is the necessity in the Believer?
2 Corinthians 5:20 says: “…we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” There is necessity in that language. God is making His appeal to the lost through His ambassadors – Believers. There is no mention here of a back-up plan or of this being one of many plans. Elsewhere, Paul makes it clear that “faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Therefore, this whole ambassadorial imploring gets to be quite important. The necessity lies in the truth that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father but through Him” (John 14:6). We either learn to speak the language or squander the calling of all Believers. That, or we illustrate that we were never ambassadors in the first place (1 John 1:19).
We are definitely in an ESL type situation. We need to learn how to incorporate evangelism as our second language, even interchangeable and able to replace our first language. You see, that is how our speech is to be. We are to speak of our Beloved. I mean, what else is more important.
Thank you for reading these feeble meanderings. Mayhap, they are not the most eloquently organized, yet realize that they come from my heart. I am learning to love my Savior in such a way that all other loves pale in comparison.
Yours and His,