effective communication

The way information is processed and is passed on evolves over time.  From word of mouth and letters carried by the Pony Express to the latest multi-media blurb found on the internet, the way information is effectively shared and received continues to develop day by day, year after year.

In the early days of newspapers, when newspapers were the primary method of delivering the news, when something big had occurred, the publisher would not only publish the usual daily paper, but would also publish an “Extra.” The extra newspapers were sold on the street corners, often by newsboys, who had a stack of papers and would sell them to those who passed by. When an Extra was published, the newsboys would call out “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” to call attention to the fact that something big had happened, and an extra bit of pressing news had been published.

How do we go about sharing the Good News of Christ?  How do we go about communicating Christ in a post-modern and, some would advocate, a post-Christian, culture?  What is effective?  What is not?  What was once effective but no longer is?  How do we adapt?  It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over believing a different outcome will be the result.  The message of the Gospel remains the same.  But how do we go about carrying out the mission of Christ in the contemporary world we find ourselves?  Sound discussion has taken the place of fierce argumentation.  However many today ask the question: “Is there really anything that’s worth discussing?”

Christianity has always existed as a culture within a culture.  Being a mission-minded people and effectively carrying out the mission of Christ entails both a striving after the Kingdom and an understanding of the environments in which we find ourselves a part.

The Apostle Paul affirms, “I have become all things to all mankind, so that by all means possible, I might save some.”  Same message.  Differing methods.  No one has all the answers.  But I believe asking the questions is a step in the right direction.

Glory to God!

Jason

the message of the Cross

“For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

These words of the Apostle Paul encourage we who have faith.  They affirm to us that no matter what others think or say or believe, no matter the lack of conviction or lack of faith of others, the reconciling message of the Cross of Christ is powerful to us, even if it isn’t to them.

But most often in our conversations and in our emphasis, we place a little too much distance between verse 18 and verse 17.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel – not with words of wisdom, lest the Cross be emptied of its power.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17

Now don’t think for a moment that the Apostle Paul is downplaying the role of baptism in one’s response to the Gospel.  Rather, I believe what the Apostle is emphatically seeking to convey is the overwhelming centrality of the message of Christ and the total reliance upon the power of God – that completely rests within the content of the message itself.

Paul strips away anything that we ourselves could add to the message by assuring that it is not with anything that we bring to the table that makes the message more influential.  Not by any oratory prowess or skill, or by any honed, tactical argumentation – but rather the power lies within the message.  “…not with words of wisdom, lest the Cross be emptied of its power.”  It is the shock of the story of the Cross.  And the shock of the story of the God of the Cross that motivates and prompts response.

The Gospel has always been scandalous, because it is a message of grace.  Grace is scandalous because it releases control.  It relinquishes control to the only One who truly possesses it.  The scandal of the Cross is that it is God Himself who “is both just and the One who justifies” (Romans 3:26).

Christ brings the Kingdom (Reign) and the Cross (Sacrifice) together, which no one can fathom.  Therein lies the power of its message.

Glory to God!

Jason

less complication. more Jesus.

I tend to make things more difficult than they need to be.  I over-analyze.  I over-think.  I over-concern.  I am too often more critical of myself than I ought to be.  In some ways this way of thinking has served me well.  In many, many ways, not so much….  Maybe you can relate?

To others the reverse perhaps is more the norm.  Many are overly critical of others.  The glass is always half-empty.  Negativity reigns supreme.  Aren’t there some whom when you see them coming you cringe when you realize they’re walking your direction?  And now you’re suddenly on a collision course with gloom and doom.  You brace yourself because you immediately realize you’re about to receive a beating that no one deserves.  And not even necessarily because they’re going to beat up on you, but because you know that whatever the conversation is, it’s going to be negative.  Aren’t there some Christians you’d swear were baptized in lemon juice (and who watch way too much CNN)?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6).

Faith is not complicated.  We make it much more complicated than it was ever intended to be.  Too often we get in the way.  The simplicity and beauty of the message we’ve received in Christ and its call to fidelity is central.  The Gospel ought to bring calm.  It ought to restore peace.  It ought to grant clarity.  It ought to.  It’s designed to.  But does it?  For you?

“Now, church, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….  …this is what we preach, and this is what you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4,11b).

In faith we open our hearts to God.  And we allow Him to be God.  We trust Him.  We share with Him.  We live life near Him.  And because of covenant and because He is God we breathe a sigh of relief.  Because He is in control.  And in Him we are a part of that which is so much greater than ourselves.

In faith we share with other believers.  We are a part of one another in Jesus.  We engage in, and share in, life.  We ought to at least.  Our relationships with believers in Christ should be our closest.  And when we struggle in our relationships as His children, we work through them.  We allow nothing to disrupt our connection to Him and to each other, because we belong to a magnificent Father and to one another in Jesus.

In faith we allow the message to be revealed through our priorities.  Our thoughts.  Our convictions.  Our beliefs.  Our conversations.  Our relationships.  It’s the way it was designed to be.  It’s the way things ought to be.  Less complication.  More Jesus.

Glory to God!

Jason