It does not matter what language is used, God’s desire is for all nations and all people to worship Him in truth and in spirit. When we remember Pentecost, we find that while God created us in His own image, this image of God is multinational, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual. We read in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in the form a violent blowing wind from heaven. After what looked like tongues of fire rested on each of the people there, the Holy Spirit filled them up and they started speaking in various recognizable tongues. The folks there were confounded to the point that they asked in Acts 2:12, “What does this mean?”
I have heard it said, and many people believe, that the initial physical evidence of a person being baptized in the Holy Spirit, is when they speak in tongues just as it happened on the day of Pentecost. However, I see something else here. This may also be evidence that the Church of God is intended to be multilingual and multinational. They all could have been speaking in one tongue. The folks gathered there could also have been of the same stock. However, in God’s infinite wisdom, He assembled people of different ethnic background and the spirit of God descended in such a way that languages were spoken that this different stock of people could understand.
On the day of Pentecost, the Bible tells us that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enables them.” The mere idea that different people of God spoke in different tongues alludes to the fact that the Lord Himself enabled the ability to speak these different languages. He enabled them for His own glory. He enabled them so we can worship Him in these tongues. People, being who we are, we always set our own agenda. There is always that move to worship God in one language all over the world, because we believe that is the easiest way to build God’s Church. All over Europe, Africa, Asia etc. there is always this move to worship God in one language, English. We tend to forget that God established His Church to be multilingual, multicultural, and multinational. The silver lining is that the Church of God is becoming more multilingual even as the Lord Himself intended it. Now we hear songs of different tongues in Churches where the Service has historically been monolingual. Personally, my joy knows no bounds when I am in a Service where God is worshipped with songs in different dialects. Today some of the fastest growing Churches are multicultural Churches.
In a multilingual Church, like Christ International Community Church (CICC), you will find that there may not be anyone who understands everything, but you will find that as different as our backgrounds are, every one of us, at least, understands some parts of our Worship. The fact that no one person understands everything means that we rely on each other more and there is a better understanding, by everyone, of the different cultural groups present in our Church community.
People of God, let us enjoy our diversity. This is the plan of God for us. Let us build a Church where all languages and culture are welcome. I have heard that if people do not understand what we are saying they will not come back. The other side of that coin is that a monocultural Church will never have the appreciation that the Church of God is much bigger than one culture or one language. God’s plan for His Church is becoming clearer daily. At the Tower of Babel God confused the languages such that they could not understand each other, and the unity of the people was broken. However, at Pentecost God reversed the Babel effect, by bringing unity, even in the face of different languages. This is perfected when Jesus came and reconciled us all to God with salvation promised to both Jews and Gentiles, and the redemption He purchased for us with His blood, was for persons from every tribe, language, people, and nations (Revelations 5:10). May His name always be praised!
July 31, 2022 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya