WHAT DO WE TRANSMIT AND COMMUNICATE IN LIFE?
As we live in the last days, we should be acutely aware of our calling to be good witnesses for the Lord and indeed one aspect of our witness would be in the area of what we transmit and communicate in our daily living. Whether we like it or not, what we transmit and communicate in life would affect others, either positively or negatively. Others are watching how we live our lives, the values we hold and the choices we make day by day. Every action or reaction, every word we utter – all these are being observed and evaluated – there is transmission all the time and we are communicating even without our realising it.
Let us ponder over what Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 4:9-10. Although Moses was addressing the Israelites, the principles are applicable to us too. The Israelites were specifically instructed to make known to their sons and grandsons the ways and deeds of God and they were to teach their children to remember and to honour the Lord God. Here we see the special responsibility of parents to communicate and to transmit the truths and teachings of God to their children and subsequent generations. Even for those who are not parents, the principles are still applicable as they have the responsibility and privilege to nurture and to help spiritual children regarding the ways of God. Those who are older and wiser in the Lord should help the younger and the more inexperienced to grow in their knowledge of God and His ways. In this manner, the responsibility of communication and transmission applies to all, parents and non-parents alike.
It is interesting to take note that in this passage in Deuteronomy, the first thing that was highlighted to the Israelites was for them to take care of their own lives and to keep their souls diligently. This must take precedence before there can be any process of transmission and communication. After all, what is it that one can transmit spiritually if there is no substance for any form of transmission? So it is that many Christian parents today for example may be concerned for their children’s moral and spiritual development and yet, in terms of their own lives and spiritual reality, it is truly lacking. Many of God’s children may be critical of other believers and may desire to help them to grow spiritually and yet, for their own lives, there is very little substance and stature for any meaningful communication and transmission of life. One needs to pay attention to one’s own life and development first before proceeding to communicate and to transmit. One must be in a position to minister, otherwise, one has virtually nothing that is truly helpful spiritually and eternally to transmit and communicate. So as we look at the subject of transmission and communication, we must first take a look at the subject of giving priority to our own development. We must learn, grow and consolidate in order to be effective for the Lord. This is a continual process. Learning, growing and consolidating – they are taking place all the time and at the same time as we grow and learn, we are also communicating and transmitting.
Let us take a closer look at the subject of transmission. As we grow spiritually and continue to learn and to consolidate, we would then be in a position to transmit postive values and life. The process of transmission may go on even without words being uttered. The way we live our lives, our values and our responses may all be caught by others observing our lives. We would remember how the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them to pray and in all probability, they must have observed the prayer life of the Lord which prompted them to desire to learn to pray. The Lord’s prayer life affected them positively as they lived together with Him in close quarters. So it is for us too – we can affect others positively, especially those who are in a position to observe our lives closely. Such situations may take place in the context of family life, between parents and children and also in work and school situations, among colleagues and friends. It is helpful to take note that what we transmit should be an outflow from a life that is real and not just a front which we conveniently set up to impress. Putting up a front can cause serious damage in the long run, not just to the recipient but to the one who seeks to impress.
Ponder over what Paul told Timothy and Titus in 1 Timothy 4:11-12 and Titus 2:7-8. Basically, we ought to be good examples to those who believe in our words, our deeds and our actions. If we do that, then positive transmission would follow. Failure in any major area may result in our transmitting something which may actually stumble others. Many non-Christians have expressed their unwillingness to consider the gospel of the Lord Jesus primarily because of the negative example of one or more believers. To them, if being a Christian means being like this particular believer, then they would rather not consider Christianity. The key phrase in transmission is REALITY AND WHOLESOMENESS OF LIFE. There may be those who look at our lives and say – a Christian ought to be joyous and be at peace and yet they see so much anxiety in our lives. Then there are those who recognise that a Christian should be loving and caring and yet what they see in us basically is selfishness and self-centredness. It is no wonder that they do not wish to be like us. What are we indeed transmitting in our lives? Of course, we are aware that there may be those who are stumbled by us even though our lives are generally wholesome. Even the Lord Jesus, who was the perfect man on earth, encountered various ones who claimed to be stumbled by Him. We are not referring to such categories but to situations where the stumbling is due to the failure of God’s children.
What about the subject of communication? What do we communicate to others, particularly in these last days? Here of course, communication in general would mean more than just the words we utter and in some ways, communication and transmission overlap each other. But in this context, we would be looking basically at communication with regard to the words that we say. As the Lord provides opportunity, what do we communicate? Let us be careful that we do not go around communicating without wisdom and prudence. I remember clearly, when I was a student, how various ones in the university hostel shared with me that they were very put off by Christians who went around knocking on their doors at odd hours and rattling on insistently to them, like a robot, some standard Christian cliché they called the gospel, even though they were politely told that there was no interest to hear. To these hostelites, this so-called communication of the gospel was a nuisance and the Christians who did it were looked upon as insensitive and overbearing personalities. Some patients who were rather ill in hospital have also complained how they were very angry with Christians who kept coming and telling them that they were going to hell.
Here, we need to recognise that to a certain extent, the gospel message in itself can be offensive because of the truths contained in it; I am not advocating that we should not share the gospel but I am concerned as to the approach and manner of sharing and communicating. Certainly, we need much wisdom, prayerfulness and the Lord’s guidance to communicate the gospel with love and with God’s enabling.
Charles Colson, in “The Body – being light in darkness”, made some interesting observations. He had been involved in many crusades for the past 20 years and he had seen many making decisions to become Christians by uttering certain correct words. However, many of these so called converts did not carry on in their faith. Instead, they went back to their old manner of living. Colson highlighted the difference between a decision and a true conversion. A true conversion involves the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
What are we communicating as we share the gospel? What is the wholesome approach? Are we just collecting statistics or are we prayerfully looking to God to communicate LIFE? Do we depend on our method or on the Holy Spirit of God?
As God’s children, what are we really transmitting and communicating in our lives? “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). We see here how Paul and his co-workers communicated the gospel. They imparted and transmitted not just the gospel but also their own lives. The lives transmitted were characterised by blamelessness, uprightness, holiness and tenderness, gentleness and sacrificial love. In contrast, what are we imparting in our words and in our lives? Are we taking our roles as salt of the earth and light of the world seriously? Are we indeed worthy ambassadors of the Lord Jesus?