Luther’s genius was to infuse his translation with the words he heard on the street in his bit of Saxony, in east-central Germany. He obsessively asked friends and fellow scholars which dialectal words would be most widely understood. The common touch was so successful that a Catholic opponent complained that “even tailors and shoemakers…read it with great eagerness.” It was the bestseller of the century and remains the most popular German translation. Rarely has a single man had such a mark on a language. The German of Luther’s Bible was nobody’s native language in his day. Today it is so universal that it threatens Germany’s once-vibrant dialects with death by standardisation.
Quoted from a recent article in The Economist.
The text above describes the influence Martin Luther had on modern German language. Of course, it was not Luther’s purpose to homogenize the German language. His goal was to personalize the gospel and make it available to the general public. It just so happened that his German version of the Bible became a tremendous unifying platform for the German language. Maybe I spent too much time studying German in high school and college, but that just amazes me.
Thinking about it, I reflected on the fact the gospel should be a unifying force in our lives, too. It seems, though, that we often use it to divide. We reference verses describing the gospel as the “full armor of God,” but we then try to use it as a bully club. Maybe others would be more receptive to the gospel if they actually saw it in us more clearly.
A lot of hate rhetoric is ascribed to those who call themselves Christian. Is this the way our faith spreads? If so, the apostles left out most of those parts when giving us examples of faithful living. They focused instead on spreading the word and building Christian community and brotherhood.
Understand, there is a proper place for judging in the Christian life. The Bible is clear we are to hold each other accountable. The Bible is clear we are discern truth from lie and holy from heretic. However, we more often drift into condemnation rather than judgment. It may be a fine point, but there is a significant difference. When we condemn, we attempt to usurp Christ. When we judge, the purpose should be restoration. We are not the ultimate judges; we are simply life accountability partners.
So, try to use the gospel as a basis for unity. Build fellowship. Build “togetherness.” Maybe you won’t change the way an entire people speak, but you perhaps you can draw one more person into God’s eternal presence. That would be even more amazing.