Last night, I made a mad dash to our local SuperTarget to pick up three things. Only three. And for a guy like me, that means I can be in-and-out in three minutes. Unless something happens.
And it did.
I was spotted by an elderly Korean couple who was having trouble deciding on a grill. They wanted the black one, but the only boxes on display were green, red and sand color. When they waved me over to ask for help, I figured it would be an easy task. Until they started speaking. In KOREAN. At least I think it was Korean. Since I don’t speak Korean, I’m guessing a little bit here….as far as I could interpret, it could have been Klingon or Hopelandic. (I think I would’ve recognized the latter…thank you, Sigur Ros.) I quickly recognized that my English would be a HUGE barrier to my helping, so you know what I did? I started speaking…in SPANISH. Yep. I’m that guy.
“No mas negro…pero solo rojo y verde…. Que quiere?”
There was no response from the couple. To make things worse, when that didn’t do the trick, I resorted back to speaking English. Only this time, much more loudly and slowly. Because that always helps.
“THERE…IS…..NOOOOOO MORE……BLACK……….ALLL GONE…..THERE….IS……RED……AND GREEN………REEEEED…….AND…..GREEEEEEN…..”
Yep, again. I’m that guy. How embarrassing. I am the stereotypical goofball making rookie mistakes. After almost ten minutes (which I learned later, in Korean space-time is sufficient to realize the Awkward Anglo is absolutely of no use whatsoever…and still leave just over 9 minutes to figure out how to get away from him), a Target employee came to help, so I graciously tapped out. “Good luck, bro….I hope they figure it out…………if not….well….that’s too bad, I guess.”
Then I drove home thinking about The Church.
Week after week, people outside of our church culture visit our services, come to events, or strike up conversations at the lake. If we don’t speak their language, we just start speaking our own….trying to superimpose our cultural jargon into their experience….hoping for osmosis. “What? Oh….it’s about the blood……yeah, justification…..salvation……..sanctification……….it’s all good. You know, a personal relationship….with a man who’s been dead for 2000 years….but he’s actually still alive. Huh? No, you can’t visit him. Until you die…then it’s too late. No, he’s not a zombie…He’s in Heaven, living forever and he can give you eternal life, too. Oh…’eat my flesh and drink my blood’? That’s another discussion……”
Not that we shouldn’t be having those conversations. But without investing time into a relationship, I’m afraid we blow it like I did with the Korean couple. And I’ve gotta take the speck out of my own eye first….
As Christians, where are we blowing it? What do you see us doing that makes as much sense as speaking Spanish to an elderly Korean couple?