A lot of this blog (ironically not updated recently) has been devoted to communication through writing and media. A Skype chat I was just having with someone else involved in communication media got me thinking about the underlying implications of our communications efforts.
Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes people involved in church ministry aren’t so good at replying to e-mails or returning phone calls. I’ve been on both sides of this (the one pestering someone to call me back, and the one getting reminders to answer an forgotten email), so I know full well that 95% of the time, lack of communication between colleagues is the result of being overworked, understaffed and totally overwhelmed.
So I’m not here to rant about email and phone courtesy. What I’m thinking about is the message that is implicitly sent when we, as God’s people, take special effort to communicate in our day-to-day ministries, whether that’s a simple e-mail thread or whether it’s crafting an article about how God has utterly transformed someone’s life in Christ.
That message is, plain and simple: We need each other.
The Apostle Paul couldn’t have chosen a more eloquent metaphor to describe this than comparing God’s people to the human body. The body is made up of interconnected, interdependent parts that together — and only together — work in a beautifully synchronized collaboration to become one whole.
If only one part of the body goes out of sync with the whole, illness spreads through the body. The first signal that something is not right is usually pain — pain that is felt throughout the body. And the body begins to function less effectively; all the parts are diminished, unable to completely fulfill their roles when one part is not working smoothly with the rest.
Those who study the human body even a little will understand that all parts of the body are in constant communication. Signals are flowing along nerves faster than we can comprehend, passing along important messages and ensuring the whole body is functioning together.
God’s people are called the Body of Christ. Through Christ’s Lordship and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are all one, in one mission, acting in tandem not only to carry out this mission but to ensure the health and healing of any diseased parts of our body.
There are two types of communication, then, which should be constantly at work among us.
There is the everyday communication between members of the body in which we share our lives together — our burdens, our joys, our worries, our griefs, our prayers, our victories. This is how we function healthfully as the body.
I would argue that communicating, in the sense of media, is another way. When we take the time to collect the stories of people in whom God has been at work, and we pass those along through the body, we are essentially saying: We need each other. We need to share with one another what God is doing among us, how He is making us new creations in Christ Jesus, how He is redeeming us from death, from fear, from sickness, from bondage, liberating us into new life with Him.
The opposite is just as true. When we forget to testify to God’s work in us — when we fail or neglect to pass along these stories for the benefit and encouragement of others, we are implicitly saying that we don’t need each other. That we can make it in isolation, and that we have nothing to offer other members of the body. When we fail to give glory to God by telling far and wide what He has done, we block communication of these important messages to other parts of the body. We behave as if we are independent, self-sufficient.
We do need each other. Communication is key to keeping the Body alive.