Crossroads: Understanding Each Other

Genesis 11:1-9

Your Story

Talk about a time when you had a difficult time understanding someone else’s language or point of view. How did you work together so that you could understand?

My Story and the Bible Story

I’ve always loved the French language, and when I got into French classes in high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Paris. I was so excited! But my first few days in Paris, it was tough to understand native French speakers. They spoke so fast that it was hard for me to translate in my head. And boy, did my head hurt from trying to understand! But after a few days, I started to get better at understanding what they were saying. My French grew stronger, and I was able to better communicate.

Read Genesis 11:1-9.

In Genesis, the people understood one another. They all spoke the same language, and they began to work together to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. They wanted to make a name for themselves, to prove what they could do. They wanted to be like God, so God gave them different languages to keep them from planning even bigger things. Then God scattered them over the face of the Earth.

There are many languages spoken across the world. Wherever you go, chances are good that you will hear another language. There are times when those barriers make it hard for us to understand one another. The miracle of Pentecost was that everyone understood what the disciples were saying. The Bible tells us that every nation under heaven was represented in Jerusalem, and that each person in the crowd heard their own language spoken. Although the people were given different languages and scattered after the Tower of Babel, the Holy Spirit brought the people together, helping them understand one another.

When we can’t understand one another, trying to communicate can be frustrating. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit can help us. The Holy Spirit may not translate things for us like Google Translate, but it can help us understand the heart of another person. After all, we are all created by God. When you don’t understand someone, instead of getting frustrated, brainstorm. Use hand gestures, pictures, or the internet. Find ways to work together. God created us all, and the Holy Spirit can help us understand each other. It’s clear from what happened at Pentecost that God wants everyone to understand about Jesus. If we work together, we can find ways to share Jesus with everyone we meet.

Discussion and Prayer

1. As a family, brainstorm ways to share the love of God with people who don’t speak the same language as you.
2. If there is someone in your life who speaks a different language, talk about ways that you can work together to understand one another.
3. Commit to learning a few words in a different language so that you are better able to communicate with someone else.
4. Pray, thanking God that the Holy Spirit can help us understand each other. Ask for help in understanding someone in your own life.

Rev. Jessica Asbell is the Minister to Children and Families at First Baptist Roswell, where she has been serving since 2012. She has written the children’s curriculum for Smyth & Helwys’s Annual Bible Study for the books of Daniel; Ezekiel; Luke; Jonah; 1 Corinthians; 1, 2, 3 John and Jude; Colossians; The Story of Israel’s Ancestors: Living toward a Promise; and Where Faith & Family Meet: A Book of Weekly Devotions. She has also written for CBF’s Spark and Form and for Affect in CBF’s fellowship! magazine. Married to Jonathan Oravec, Jessica reads every chance she gets.

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