Sixth rule for dialogue: Interpretation
Max Warren’s sixth rule for dialogue is quite interesting, I thought. Instead of proclaiming the gospel to someone, one has to interpret the gospel in such a way that the one listening can really understand and associate with the message. And one can only truly interpret the gospel for someone else, if true dialogue had taken place. The witness, furthermore, is not so much witnessing about something he /she had done, but rather about something that had happened in his / her life. The witness then has the responsibility to interpret these happenings in a way that the listener can understand and relate to.
Kenneth Cragg, a missionary amongst the Muslims, wrote as far back as 1956: “The amazing reality behind and within the Christian mission in the world is this task of interpretation.
Our duty is to carry over the Word which God has uttered, to be translators of His speech in language, the idiom and the minds of ordinary men. Our words are to be servants of His word, our lives of His life, our persons of His Person. Men are to take from us their knowledge of Himself. There is this sequence: “Thou in Me and I in them”, with the purpose “that the world may know that Thou hast sent me”
Perhaps even more important than being able to interpret the message in understandable language, is to be able to understand the language of the heart? How do you interpret the greatest message of all times in you do not know how the person feels whom you are speaking to, how that person thinks and understands the circumstances within which he / she is living? How do you interpret the message of freedom if you do not understand what it is that is holding this person captive?
The longer I work as missionary, the more I realise the great responsibility God has placed upon my shoulders to do this work – and the same applies for anyone working as missionary.