Each of us decodes what others say to us using a host of filters which are the products of our culture, our age, our education, our personal biases, and past experiences. I am amazed that we understand anything others say or write. I have students from Haiti, Jamaica, New York City, Boston and upper New York State. Surely there is a bit of lunacy on my part to walk into a classroom with the expectation that students will understand anything I tell them. If it isn’t lunacy then it must be arrogant ignorance. Thus it is that explaining the simplest of assignments can be a major task.
This brings me to the foolishness of preaching, whether it be to a gathering of thousands at a camp meeting in southern Kenya or ten people gathered together in Iowa. Believing that one has something to say that is meaningful to either of these groups is an audacious act. God must be amused at our conceit. We might think we were splendid and did God a great service by “spreading the Good News.” However, He knows it would have been utterly meaningless had not the Holy Spirit been present. Only the Holy Spirit knows the unique hungers of each soul. Only the Holy Spirit can translate our feeble attempts into meaningful thoughts that truly nourish.
So many times I have had people thank me for saying “such and such” because it was just what they needed to hear. I often take credit by saying thank you when I know I never said what they said I said. I’m sure it is a form of the gift of tongues mentioned in Acts or should I say the gift of ears. However, the process works, it isn’t our brilliance. It is God’s desire to save.