We love love languages. A professional speaker or writer may communicate his thoughts well, but a master of love language knows how to speak to the heart of his listener. Think of how a father learns to speak and act in a new way to his son or daughter so that his child can learn from him. Or consider the way a husband will learn to relate to his wife in a way different from how he had spoken to anyone else before.
But what happens when we fail to catch another’s love language for us? God may be speaking perfectly well to us, but that doesn’t mean we always perfectly hear him. Since he is perfect Truth and Love, while we are finite creatures, there’s a bit of a language gap between us. And when we consider our faults, self-focus, and all the effects of original sin, then the gap just gets wider. Listening to God can seem a lot less like a father speaking to his son, and more like being in a foreign culture, without friend or guide, without an understanding of how the language works.
God knows about this language gap between us and him, and he wants to close it in the best way possible. But how does he do this? How does God bridge this gap?
It’s the cross. The cross is God speaking his divine truth and love fluently, and yet in a language we can understand. The words and actions of Jesus from the cross are the grammar of God’s plan for us and the lexicon of his love language.
The cross bridges the gap between God and us. It’s like Jacob’s ladder. Here you have a vision of angelic ascent and descent that join heaven and earth together. Now instead of angels descending with a message from God, you have the Lord himself coming down to speak to us in our own language.
Many churches have an array of stained glass in their highest parts. Everything up above in that stained glass represents heaven, the saints, divinity, eternity. And everything below those windows points to time, the present, and what’s here on earth now. In the sanctuary, hanging down low or lifted up high is the cross. Like Jacob’s ladder, the cross is God bringing heaven down to earth for us to see. When our heavenly Father speaks to us, he does it in a way that we would most understand.
From the cross, God is saying that he knows us. I know who you are, he says. I know your struggles and your trials. And however you might feel about yourself, I want you to know that I love you. Tell me the loudest, clearest way to show this love and I will do that. I will become so fluent in your human language that I will become human like you. I will even die for you just so you can see how much I care for you.
Jesus is Love speaking our love language. He became fluent in our humanity that we might be fluent in his divinity.
Image: Henry Ossawa Tanner, Christ Learning to Read