This post was started about a month ago when I woke up with some random thoughts on communication and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I got up wrote them down. Read my Bible, read a chapter in a book and went back to bed around 4:30 AM. I found it in my unfinished files and decided to see where it went. I hope it is helpful.
Communication is that thing we do with words when demanding our way has met an immovable object.
Communication is that thing we do when the 2×4 has rendered the audience unconscious and unmoved. It is akin to waking up the dead and making dry bones live. Miracles are needed to be effective.
Communication is often unmasked as mere sophistry. I heard a professor once say:
“I came to the place in my lecture where I needed a great quote but couldn’t find one. So I made one up and put it in the mouth of an expert that I also made up on the spot.”
This is a diabolically effective thing many people do in private conversation that if they are not careful can cause them to lose all integrity as well as turn an audience into a collection of empty seats.
Biting sarcasm and dripping disdain can be effective tools of persuasion but they are not necessarily good tools for building any containers for truth. For evidence, I invite you to read nearly any two pages in Richard Dawkins popular works against Christianity or the majority of articles written for the online magazine Medium.
But tears in an audience’s eyes or smiles on their faces, or laughter from their bellies—none of these are a guarantee that actual communication has occurred either. All of these may be nothing more than wood, hay and stubble that will burn up as worthless works (1 Cor. 3:10-14). In the same way, an expanding social network, thousands of “likes”, online affirmations in abundance may be the digital equivalent of crack-cocaine, pleasurable for a time, deadly in the end. Jesus’s brother James has some cogent words of warning:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, ESV)
Communicators of the gospel should remember that conversion is a miracle. Prayer and reliance upon the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of a person is a necessary ingredient to all truly successful communication. Let’s make sure that our reliance is on Christ not tears, on the Spirit not laughter. Let’s work hard on our messages and teachings, and Bible studies, and illustrations but let’s remember that real power is not measured by how many friends we have in world or likes we have on the social media platform that might be all the rage of the moment.
After all it is not the world that saves us but our one and only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And they crucified Him for His message.