Remember “Oppa Gangnam-Style” the surprising phenomenal hit? It was a Korean dance song that became an international hit and first to get one billion views!
And it was all Korean words – except for the “you know what I am saying” hip-hop phrase a side-splitting incongruity of a Korean nerd with no street cred flicking his wrist as if he grew up from the hood. English would have been the way to go if Psy sought international fame. But Turks flash-mobbed the dance and Australians horse-galloped to the song though they did not know a single Korean word!
People caught the spirit of the words and they danced without understanding many of the jokes in the lyric. Many wanted to the get the inside scoop and began asking any Korean they could get their hands on. Ian’s 2nd grade classmates asked him if he could translate what Psy was singing. This changed Ian into a fervent student of his mother’s language, for two months, good while it lasted.
The spirit in the Gospel-Language is far different than what thumps in Gangnam-Style. But we should imitate the courage to simply speak one’s own language. Christian apologetics has too often become what it sounds like, an apology. We lose courage and in translating to sound eloquent or cool to the modern critics, we lose the meaning.
This past week, I invited a person to our new church plant saying, “we have a great child care program!” I was trying to sell the church as a drop-off child care center. What I should have said was, “God wants to renew your life so come worship with me this Sunday” even if it might have gone over his head or make him fidget. At certain point, a medicine diluted by water and honey to make it palatable is made ineffective.
At Pentecost, Peter preached in Aramaic. The crowd, however, understood it in their own language. It wasn’t because the apostles were speaking their language but because the Spirit was doing the translation. Trust the Spirit to do the translation and speak the Gospel-Language. They will want to first join you in the dance, then ask you what it all means.