Blue Flower

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 Walk down the main street in many towns in the UK and you'll hear a variety of different languages spoken:Polish, Portuguese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and, especially in the tourist season, French, German, Dutch and Spanish. These languages are barriers between nations and cultures, even within communities, which are difficult to overcome.

In a conference with each speaker using a different language, the need to provide simultaneous translation highlights this problem. For any number of different languages greater than three, the number of translators exceeds the number of speakers.

1 language – 0 translators, 2 languages – 1 translator, 3 languages – 3 translators but then for 4 languages – 6 translators, 5 languages – 10 translators, and for 10 languages – 45 translators.

For the mathematically inclined, the number of translators for x languages is x(x-1)/2. As organisations diversify their membership, so translating has become a flourishing growth industry.

It was not always so.

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them (Psa.34:7)

Many Bible believing people will have drawn great comfort from the above-mentioned Old Testament verse. Yet in the following psalm, there are a couple of verses, which describe the angel of Yahweh in a quite different role: persecuting those who set themselves against Yahweh’s anointed

Sometimes when we read our Bibles confusion can take hold of us as we try to understand our lives in relation to the scriptures we are reading.

To overcome this it can often be useful to put the words in a different perspective. As an example I would like to tell you a story that begins with some of the most famous words that never appear in our Bibles.

‘Once upon a time’ there was a young boy.

Suffering reminds us that –

  • We live in an imperfect world in which we are vulnerable and susceptible to suffering and death.

  • Humans at times can intentionally inflict suffering upon others.

  • Suffering can come about through illness, war, poverty, disease etc.

  • We are unable to eradicate suffering altogether.

Today’s thoughts are based on 1 Corinthians 13, which is very much a summary of the Christian philosophy; we pose the question: how can we follow the principles of the chapter in our rapidly changing and confusing world?

The short chapter was written in the 1st century for a very different audience; can it still guide us today, 2000 years later?