Our Native Tongue
A FRIEND of mine -- a notable Bible scholar -- has talked, with affection, of his grandmother who lived in the Highlands of Scotland and who spoke in Gaelic, the native language of the Highlands. My friend recalls with a smile how his grandmother told him that he would not be able to understand the Bible until he read it in the Gaelic. For me as a Scot, it is interesting to visualize Gaelic as the original language of the Bible. But of course Gaelic is not the Bible's original language. The Bible has been printed in a vast number of modern languages and dialects, translated from early Hebrew and Greek texts.
But the Bible does have a specific language. It is the language of Spirit, because God is Spirit, and the Bible is about God and man's relationship to God. The Bible's message is spiritual. It is a message of God's love to man and of man's true nature as the loved expression of God, divine Love. We are able to receive the message and to understand it, for we are God's spiritual likeness. Our native tongue is the language of Spirit.
In a published talk about God's love, Henry Drummond speaks about the famous explorer David Livingstone and of the deep compassion he showed to the people of all races during his journeyings in Africa. Drummond says, ``...men's faces light up as they speak of the kind doctor who passed there years ago. They could not understand him; but they felt the Love that beat in his heart.''1
David Livingstone communicated with people of different cultures, different religions, different languages, in the language of divine Love -- the universal language, our native tongue.
One of my own fond recollections is of walking through a small, remote village in North Africa during the heat of the day. The local people were keeping to the shade, and the village looked deserted. Then I saw a man sitting in the shadow of a wall. I was young, an engineer, steeped in European technology, and to me that man was part of a world totally different from my own. He looked as old, and as much part of ancient times, as the Egyptian pyramids nearby. We appeared to have little in common. But he looked at me, and I looked at him, and we smiled at each other. At that moment the differences faded away. We were members of the same family, children of the one God.
Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated spiritual communication. He touched the hearts and minds of men, women, and children with healing. His spoken words were in Aramaic, but his true communication was in a love that healed people of their sicknesses, their fears, their sorrows. As we read in the Bible, ``Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.''2
God is Spirit and is Love. These are basic truths of Christianity. They apply to you and to me equally, no matter what race we belong to or what human language we speak. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science underlying Jesus' words and works and who founded the Christian Science Church, writes, ``When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.''3
Whether we speak in Gaelic or Aramaic, in the accents of Brooklyn or Botswana, if the spirit of Love motivates us, we communicate understandingly.
The language of the heart, and of the Bible, is the language of Love. It is a universal language. It is our native tongue.
The Greatest Thing in the World (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, n.d.), p. 11. 2Matthew 14:14. 3Miscellaneous Writings, p. 262.