What Is Our Native Language?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

In recent years, this newspaper has covered the contentious issue of official languages for such countries as Canada, South Africa (which has nine official languages), the disbanded Soviet Union, and even the United States, where many citizens would like English declared the only official language.

Imagine a world in which everyone speaks the same language. No interpreters are needed at international conferences. Misunderstandings are few. People feel instant rapport with everyone they meet. They have cultural differences, but they can easily talk these through and find ready acceptance or happy compromise.

That's the way it could be today if we gave more attention to a language primer that has existed for centuries-the Holy Bible. Its pages abound with the wisdom of God-fearing people who share a common language-the language of Spirit. This is their native tongue, uncluttered by linguistics. There are no rigid forms, no rules of declension. This tongue can exist even without words-although, in the New Testament, there are constraints to bring people's utterances into conformity with the example of the key figure in Christianity, Christ Jesus. St. Paul appealed to fellow Christians in Colossae: "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6).

Spontaneity and impetuosity characterize many people's speech. But we all need to guard against thoughtlessness in our exchanges with others. Here Jesus' teaching is firm, clear, and applicable today: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matthew 15:11). Clearly, we are responsible for the way we speak. But as we grow in understanding the nature of God, we will naturally bear "the fruit of the Spirit," expressing in our daily lives such qualities as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians, chap. 5). Wisdom, strength, and conviction will also enrich our vocabulary.

Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy and explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, clarifies this further. Mrs. Eddy wrote on page 117, "God is Spirit; therefore the language of Spirit must be, and is, spiritual." Later in the same passage she said, "Ear hath not heard, nor hath lip spoken, the pure language of Spirit."

Spirit is one of the synonyms Mrs. Eddy used to enrich people's concept of God. "The language of Spirit" lifts us clear of mortal thinking of any kind. Physical organs, well-rounded vowels, and decibels are not the essence of this language, yet its tones, which are heard in our hearts, are vibrant with healing and regeneration.

When we speak "the language of Spirit" with others, misunderstanding becomes impossible, because we use the vocabulary of God's qualities: humility, helpfulness, and harmony. Our exchanges are free of preconceptions and emotional overtones, so that we hear exactly what others are saying. Impure thoughts are filtered out, and we become more aware that we are dealing with God's children. We "hear" even what people are not saying, especially those who are still getting to know themselves and may be finding it hard to express their innermost thoughts. Remove the obstruction caused by ill-chosen, foreign-sounding, hasty, unjust, exaggerated words-even by unexpressed thoughts-and the scene is set for shared spiritual growth. As our understanding of God deepens, we hear and know the appropriate words, and are better able to verbalize thoughts that unite us.

Love is essential in the language of Spirit, as Paul reminded the Christians at Corinth: "If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal" (I Corinthians 13:1, J. B. Phillips translation).

When we become conscious of our unity with God and our fellowship with each other, we will speak the language of Spirit-of divine Love-effortlessly and eloquently. We will rejoice in God's power to communicate healing.

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