We’re talking about talking again. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to explore together how we communicate as a church and why we would communicate in those various forms. With each form of communication should come corresponding expectations for what the purpose of that form of communication is. When we communicate, we are making sure everyone has the same expectations. So, this series is designed to make sure everyone has the same expectations about arriving at the same expectations. We’re talking about talking.
In our previous post (Part 1) we mentioned the need for prioritizing our communication to be filled with the word of God. This should be the obvious first priority, but it is often neglected, and so we would do well to constantly ask the question, “what does God say about this?” And we should consider not just what God says, but how he says it. If God uses particular vocabulary or categories of thought, we probably should too. If the Bible uses a certain definition of a word, we should hold to that definition too. Well the same strategy applies to how we communicate. What does the word of God say about communication? Does God seem to prioritize one form of communication over another? Absolutely!
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
John 1:1-3, 14
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus is God’s supreme form of communication, The Word made flesh. In all of God’s speaking – the speaking of creation into existence, revelatory dreams and visions, angelic messengers, prophecy, and written oracles – Jesus was the author, content and superior messenger of it all. Everything God has said was said by Jesus and through Jesus and for Jesus (Col. 1:16). The communication of Jesus by the incarnation is what God had been planning to say since the beginning of creation. It’s like everything up until the incarnation was practices and dress rehearsals, and the pulling back of the curtain on opening night was the birth of Jesus in the manger. It’s like everything God had said beforehand was whispers (1 Kings 19:12) and shadows (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1) and Jesus’ birth and second coming are loud trumpets (Lev. 25:9; Isa. 18:3; 27:13; Joel 2:1; 1Cor. 15:52; Rev. 1:10; 11:15) and choirs singing (Isa. 52:9; Zep. 3:17; Luke 2:14; Rev. 14:3).
And so, as the body of Christ, what does this mean for our communication? This means most importantly that we think first of Jesus and his body in our communication. This means that the Lord’s Table is what we want to communicate with each other, that we’re unified in his death and at peace with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The pursuit of peace and unity in person is a top priority (Rom. 12:18; 14:19; 2 Cor. 13:11). And just as God could not do it in any better way than in person, the same is true for us. This is why you can’t take communion over the internet. And just as our greatest hope is to see Jesus one day face to face (1 Cor. 13:12) so too we should desire above all to meet with one another face to face whenever possible. Everything is said better in person. And anything that is said from a distance and not in person is far less desirable, even unfortunate if it is necessary. It is often wise to wait until we see someone next before saying something. Shooting off a text, or even worse a social media post, may even be detrimental. A good test of anything you write or email would be that if you wouldn’t say it in person, then you shouldn’t say it at all. And the more serious the communication, the more likely you should wait until you see them. If the goal of communication is peace and unity, nothing compares to the kind word spoken directly to the eyes and a maybe a hug to go with it. Just consider how often this is modeled for us in the epistles and even seen as lamentable to use a letter (Rom. 15:32; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 2:11; Col. 2:1; 1Thess. 2:17; 3:10; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:14).
Let’s work as hard as we can to meet with each other in the flesh. And if we are ever not speaking in person, may we always have the sentiment that John expresses, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” (3 John 1:14)