Language Barriers

It seems that the Australian accent was not as clear as they thought.

Genesis 11:1-32

Reference:  v.7 "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." (NIV Bible)

Explore:  My husband has a new work colleague who has only recently moved from China.  As part of a healthy introduction to Australia, his work mates wanted to shout their new colleague a meal at McDonalds.  While this did not really represent traditional Australian food they had been talking about a Pounder Burger all week.  This is one burger that contains 4 quarter pounder burger patties, therefore making it one full pound of meat in one burger.  When they told their new colleague about this Pounder Burger he could not believe it was true.  "No, I do not believe that is real," he would say.  So, they had to take him to McDonalds for him to understand.  After ordering 4 Pounder burgers and carrying them back to their table (on a tray that was bowed by the weight of meat on it) they revealed to their new friend the Pounder burger.  Realization dawned on his face.  He thought that they had said it was a Panda burger and he could not believe that we would eat the meat from such an animal.  It seems that the Australian accent was not as clear as they thought.
It is often hard enough communicating with people who do speak the same language but when there is a language barrier as well, it can certainly make for some interesting interpretation.

Application:  It seems that when all people did speak the same language they were not working towards a better future and so God confused their languages.  Today, it is not just the words that come from our mouths that can confuse others but the culture of our area and the way we react and respond to situations.  This should not cause us to push people away but it shows us the amazing diversity in our world.  Often we feel that our way is the right way because it's what we are comfortable with.  But we need to understand that other people's ways feel right to them too.  Communicating across cultures can be challenging but when we can catch a glimpse at the great diversity of our world then we are able to grasp a deeper understanding of our diverse God.

Prayer:  Lord, no matter what language we speak or what culture we live in, we can worship You.  May we not be limited to our boxed-in perspective of You but have other people stretch and extend our minds to how great You are.  Amen.

What different cultures have you experienced?  What have you learnt from them?

This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.