I spent some time today considering what it would be like to be in a church again for my first time. I can still remember as a child visitor how mysterious and even science-fictional the pastors seemed and the congregants appeared. As strange and foreign, even ancient, as the pastors language was everyone in the church seemed to get it.

I think one of the things we as Christians are immediately confronted with when we share the gospel message or gospel deed with our neighbor is how far we’ve gone from being ‘like them’. Our language, our plausability structures, our expectations seem eons apart from where they are. And we’re terrified from having to confront how ‘strange’ and ‘foreign’ we really are from those around us…but we’re distressed and guilt riden if we don’t confront it.

I was reading the beginning of James Kugel’s book on “The Great Poems of the Bible” when I came across his own confession of the strain a bible translator is faced with. Kugel said;

From all this it should be clear that translators of the Bible always find themselves on the same stylistic continuum, having to choose between high and low, ancient-sounding and contemporary, native and slightly foreign, slavishly literal and daringly free. ” pg. 15

As we share Christ with our neighbor we find ourselves in a similar situation as does a translator of the Bible. Struggling to bring to bear an ancient message, from a foreign land and time, composed of parts so meaningful and complex that to overpass them is to lose something from them. To share this sort of message in the span of a moment with someone who’s own indifference may be just another discouraging testimony to our conscience that no one cares about the ‘details’.

They just hear the first few words and say its just like everything else I’ve heard, passing over the time, care, and artistic craft spent upon this short span conversation with them; they indifferently just nod their head, give us the thoughsand mile stare and go one with their life.

Translation, evangelism; they are hard – they are costly – they are…necessary.