I’ve written before about the many benefits of being bilingual. In a blog post entitled, The Benefits of Being Bilingual, I pointed out how learning Spanish is not only perspective widening, but that even more significantly, it might prove to be “Kingdom-widening,” as well, as it provides an opportunity to tell Spanish speakers about Jesus! In this blog post, I’d like to suggest one more reason to learn Spanish: so that Spanish speakers can tell you about Jesus! Here’s what I mean:
What God has done for sinners through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus can be communicated in any and every language on earth. The content of the Gospel is universal. The Good News of the free and full forgiveness of sins on account of Christ is the same no matter what language is used to convey it. But the images, nuances, and connotations found in one language might highlight one aspect of the message differently than another.
Take the Spanish word encarnación, for example. While the English term “incarnation” normally implies a more abstract concept, the Spanish term encarnación means what it says, “He took en (in) la carne (the flesh) our human drama.” (John 1:14) Because the word encarnacion has a closer connection to the Spanish word for meat (carne) and butcher (carnicero), it highlights the concrete, flesh and blood nature of the Gospel. Hispanic theologian Luis Pedraja writes,
When I think of encarnación, I can imagine myself visiting a cathedral and seeing the graphic images of a suffering Jesus. I can imagine banners in Spanish proclaiming the words of John 1:14: “el Verbo se hizo carne” (the Verb became flesh). I can imagine myself subsequently walking out into the streets of the barrio and seeing another sign above a butcher shop (carnicería) advertising a sale on carne (meat), while the carnicero (butcher) stands outside with his white apron splattered with blood next to slabs of meat (carne) hanging in public view. (Pedraja, Jesus is My Uncle: Christology from a Hispanic Perspective)
Listening and learning from brothers and sisters in Christ that speak other languages not only helps us to reach out to more people with the Gospel, it also deepens our understanding of the Gospel itself. In the same way that learning Spanish makes a person appreciate the beautiful diversity of the creatures God created, learning about Jesus from believers that speak another language can give a person an even deeper appreciation for what God has done to redeem all creatures!