Communication errors abound, but not welcome
By Cindi Shroyer
So this guy takes his dog to the vet. Seems the dog’s eyes are crossed and the pet owner wants to see if something can be done.
For the examination, the vet picks the dog up and takes a look. After a few moments the vet speaks.
“Well,” the vet sighs, “I’m gonna have to put him down.”
“What!” the owner exclaims. “Just because he has crossed eyes?”
“No,” the vet says. “Because he’s heavy.”
We have all been there — what we mean may be what we said but not what we meant.
There is even a famous saying by Robert McClosky that graces t-shirts, coffee mugs and editorial page quote sections about it.
“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
Wow. Leaves a lot of room for error, doesn’t it? I find this most frustrating in this age of electronic communication. You send an e-mail and the person you sent it to gets their undergarments in a bunch because they attributed a different tenor to the missive than you intended. “Have a nice day” translates to something like Dirty Harry telling you to “make my day.” You never meant it that way. You really were hoping the recipient would have a nice day. Now neither of you will.
Then you get the folks who type in all capital letters. For those who are not yet savvy, that becomes yelling in non-verbal communication. Here you just like capital letters and/or hit the cap lock by accident and decided a little whimsy was okay and the next thing you know you are accused of screaming the news of the arrival of little Edmond or the death of aunt Harriet or the graduation of L’monjello and Oranjello, the twins no one expected to get out of prison and still be able to walk the stage.
True, capital letters do add emphasis. We just have to be careful what we emphasize.
We also have to be careful of what we say, how we say it, our method of communication.
There is no room for error when we are talking about God’s Word and the truth of His gift of salvation.
There is an ever-growing number of people who would have us set aside the Bible (like enough of us haven’t relegated it to dust-collector status as it is). They are preaching a gospel of empty minds and empty ritual they pretty much guarantee will get us, well, they can’t even tell us where. That translates to, well, to hell.
I am going to step on some toes here. Just thought I would warn you.
Lighting candles in place of worship is not okay.
Chanting a phrase or word instead of worship and Bible study is not okay.
Walking around a labyrinth pretending to pray when you are really trying to stay in the path’s pattern is not going to suffice.
If you think this stuff is good replacement for worship and Bible study, I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible (66 books, no more, no less) where it says it is okay and bring it to my attention. I will eat my words along with this newspaper.
Go back to what Jesus did when He walked with us. I don’t read a single passage where He went home to meditate and needed candles and zither music to get the job done. I don’t read anywhere that He walked around in a series of circles and taught His disciples to pray.
He taught them to pray by heading out by Himself to talk to His Father (talk means more like a conversation, not an emptying out of one’s mind. Gotta keep some thoughts in there to keep the conversation going, ya’ know.). He modeled a prayer for them, ironically enough using words that cannot be minced. They cannot be misconstrued. We know who we are talking to, what He wants, what we want, what we need and how those needs are supplied. He also prayed right where they were — on the road to the next town or in a town where they were ministering.
The times Jesus said a phrase more than once was to get a point across (feed my sheep) or when He was crying out to His Father as He was dying.
I can hear you by the way (I have a very good imagination). I can hear the grunts and groanings of people who read this and are being offended. I can hear the paper being waded up and tossed across the room or in the trash can. Let me put it this way — if you are angry and offended (a very bad thing), I suggest you do some soul searching and Bible study. If you are conscious-touched offended, well, you probably better do the same (and this crisis of conscious is a very good thing). As a good friend of mine reminds me often — remember we take offense, pick it up, carry it around. It is not thrust upon us, wrapped in cool paper and given as a gift. We take offense. And that means we can put it right back down or refuse delivery.
This miscommunication about God and how to worship comes because people (we human sheep) are continually in search of the easy way to get things done. And while desperately seeking the easy way out we bypass or overlook the real way to get things done. We lose valuable time; we get confused by all the easy-way-out sellers (they would be false teachers, and I think those are mentioned somewhere in the Bible. Hmm. Maybe 2 Peter 2:1). With their help, and sometimes without it, we get lost.
We are told the Bible is too hard to understand; the language too archaic. But it isn’t if we pray (you know, real words strung together in a sentence or two) and ask God to reveal to us what we need to see. There is meat there, plated and ready to be served. We just have to pick up the fork and knife and dig in.
Some parts are tough, some tender, some raw and bloody. All are seasoned perfectly for our consumption. Confusion is not one of the seasonings. Instead it is seasoned with truth, inerrancy, love, honesty, power, confrontation. All the seasonings are healthy and beneficial.
It is God’s Word. Simple. True. It needs no help from us. It can be understood by us. It’s understandability is not hinged on the language of the day.
“For God so loved the world that He sent He only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him will have everlasting life.”
Through generations those words may become more modern, but the message remains the same. It is timeless. It is unchanging. It is a promise. It cannot be confused with another message. It says what it means and means what it says.
Christ followers should be the same. Pastors and teachers should do the same. Share the simple, unchanging, not-to-be-confused-with-any-other message that Christ died once for all.