Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. Or rather, I’ve been looking for a word to use for “love” in our Menyan New Testament in the wrong places. I’ve had long conversations with a handful of different guys and thought multiple times that I had found a suitable word or phrase. But every time, the next person I talked to exposed drawbacks with each alternative. Finally I realized the problem: “love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 1:8). Every phrase that we have tried to use to express the Biblical idea of sacrificial love has fallen short because it is derived from a culture that hasn’t grasped God’s love. To put it another way, all the Menyan terms communicate a self-serving emotion, not sacrificial love produced by the Holy Spirit.
In my conversations about love, I shared different passages to explain the idea (Romans 5:8, John 15:12; John 3:16; Romans 13:10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Wati grasped the meaning and then, in a conversation with a few others, contrasted God’s love with their traditional conceptions of desire, and reciprocity. He communicated so clearly, I decided to let him explain it to a larger group Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, we discussed what he was going to say. I printed out the verses he would read and the points he would make. But on Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before meeting time, he came to talk again. He was very nervous–I thought he was going to back out. But after talking through it again, there was just one point Wati said he would prefer to have me explain. When he stood up to speak, however, he started rolling and explained everything very well. He didn’t slow down when he got the point he anticipated having trouble with. He nailed it all. It was thrilling to hear him communicate God’s word in his own language to his own people. And it was much better to have him (rather than me) say “all our traditional ideas of how to treat one another are selfish and self-serving. God’s love is something new to us.” Praise God for the work He is already doing in Wati!
P.S. For now we have Menyanized the Greek word “agape” and come up with “aqapequ” as a place-holder. (It’s only temporary–unless it works.)