Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. Why? Well, here is the story.
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages.” They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!”
Ever since this event, with some exceptions, believers in Jesus and followers of him have followed the lead of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles in speaking the magnificent acts of God in all kinds of languages. Followers of the risen Jesus have one Lord, one faith and one baptism, but many languages and many cultures. The number keeps increasing all the time.
On that day, the idea that faith in Jesus required that everyone speak the same language, or have the same culture, got smashed. From time to time some try to put the pieces of that shattered relic back together, but mostly those who live in the life of the risen Savior live that out, share it with others, and create praise in their own languages and cultural forms.
It looks like the world thinks that it is discovering the value of diversity. God’s language and culture diversity project, centered around his son, Jesus, started 2,000 years ago. I think that it has a head start.
God speaks into the African context in African idiom, and that it is through hearing in African mother-tongues ‘the great things that God has done’ (Acts 2:11), that African theology emerges to edify not only the African church but the church world-wide – Dr. Kwame Bediako (Ghanaian theologian)