Thursday, November 14, 2013

Studying language religiously

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I gave up my childish ways."  I Cor 13:11 (from the Bible)

1.  Children have to learn how to speak.

"Now out of the ground, the LORD had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name."  (Genesis 2:19).

In other words, Adam learned to talk.  I don't think it stopped with the animals.  I think God prodded him to come up with a name for everything, for actions, and conjunctions, and all of the parts of speech.  Why?  God made Adam's intellect to grow with language.  Adam needed to learn language.  Furthermore, God chose to share the companionship of the Trinity with more than Himself, and wanted to communicate with Adam.  It is a tessellation that goes on and on.  God is in relationship with the Trinity, and yet He seeks to share the joy of that relationship with others.

When we are in relationship to God, we want to share that joy with others.

2.  Language lets us share.

Not to say that animals don't have communications abilities.  And I have personal experience that these abilities can be developed somewhat.  But animals don't make up the words.  People do.

The purpose of language is to share!  To share our experience with each other, to share our experience with God.  To share our toys and our food and our blessings with each other.  To share the Kingdom of God with one another.

3.  Prayer is language.

One of my kids was about 14 months old when she first asked for something.  When I figured out what it was she wanted I was happy to give it to her, because she finally used language to ask for something.  For me, the lesson was that we just fail to receive from God's hand because we don't ask.

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him."  (Matthew 7:11).

Oh yes!  There are groanings we have trouble putting into words.  But this brings me to the point of this blog entry:

4.  We study language because it assists us in our communications with God.

It is NOT enough to just be happy with the words that we know.  God brought every animal to Adam, and Adam gave it a name.  I don't think that stopped with the nouns that are the animals.  God brought ideas to Adam, and Adam gave them names.  The Bible brings tough ideas to us, and we 'learn' them when we can talk about them.  God, who is happy to give good gifts to His children, is happy to listen to your lesson in tough ideas.  Pour your heart out to Him!  He will help you refine your language, which will refine your thinking, which will refine your actions.  The process is through language and prayer.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  James 1:5.

5.  Language, both prose and poetry, can be used to study and to know God.

Do we teach it that way?  Isn't this the highest use of language?  Shouldn't our exercises in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, our exercises in writing sentences, paragraphs, and essays, shouldn't all of this have the end-purpose of communicating better with God?  With sharing and spreading the Kingdom?

Describing what God has done glorifies Him!  This can be science and math.  We worship Him in song, and the poetry of the lyrics is an effort in language.

It's not that EVERY effort in writing needs to be something that can be sung in Heaven.  Grocery lists and instructions don't have to have this qualification.  But the act of choosing the best word for our worship will most definitely carry over into choosing the best word for whatever the task at hand.

But do we teach language, and for that matter, EVERY subject with the bigger picture in mind?