November 13, 2014

Strained Relations II: Failure To Communicate

[Continued from Previous Post]

Communication Breakdown

To continue from the previous post I will further expound on why true Christians can often have conflict in their interactions with other true Christians. Conflict does not always mean one or more of the parties is not Christian, it just means there might be more sin in someone’s life than first suspected. All people are sinners, but not all that sin are non-believers. We were saved from our sin by grace, it didn’t make us perfect, only justified in God’s eyes so that we would not be condemned for our sin at the time of final judgment.

Poor communication in a failing relationship is a foregone conclusion. This is an obvious symptom. The problem might not necessarily be an issue of no communication but instead, poor communication that is misinterpreted or misunderstood. What’s more is that it might even be well-communicated but poorly backed or acted on communication. What do I mean? We may communicate things perfectly with our mouth and be perfectly understood in an audible manner but what doesn’t communicate well is our behavior. Things do not always add up between words and action. Our behaviors and body language do not back-up our statements based in our beliefs. Our behaviors contradict or countermand our words. It's called hypocrisy folks. We talk the talk but not walk the walk. As it is also said, “Actions speak louder than words!”

It isn't so much a failure to communicate as it is a failure to communicate honestly. Where the mind leads the body needs to follow or there will be an incongruity. It usually comes in the form of judgmental hypocrisy. What other things have I found to be a hindrance?

All Is Vanity and Selfish Conceit

Another relational sin I see often in myself and other is vanity. Again, at the root of this sin is pride. Vanity is strictly personal and serves no righteous purpose. Vanity literally has no reward and sadly, trivializes everything around it. Vanity makes itself higher than anything else and belittles anything that would dare to stand next to it. This is not humility and it is certainly not Christian for that reason alone. It takes an ideal from our heads greater than reality and therefore makes an idol of our imagination. We then take this imagination and project it onto reality….other people’s reality. In so doing we impose our imaginations on other people. We shoehorn our sin into another person’s life.

We essentially say that something created of our own mind is greater than that which God has made and put before us in reality. It is idolatry in its purest form. These mental images of ourselves never remain in our minds, they manifest into reality as arrogance and narcissism. This is never conducive to a godly relationship. It puts us first before God and neighbor. In truth, we should not be loving our neighbor as ourselves. This is often misinterpreted from the Bible. Jesus is assuming a sinful condition in man when he says this. What Jesus is really saying here is that we should love God and our neighbor like we normally would selfishly love ourselves but in reality should’ve been loving others in that same manner. In other words: We need to love God and our neighbors with selfless love! In Christianity…there really is no self…there is only God and others. God's will and other people’s well-being should be viewed above our own needs.

That is the whole point of the Kingdom of God. It is the whole point of Kingdom community. We best embody the idea of community and otherness when we forget about ourselves and dwell on the needs of others. There is no community when we indwell and focus selfishly on the self. When we do so, it is sin of egotism pure and simple. Like I said, vanity serves no meaningful Kingdom purpose.

Selfish and Vainglorious

Well, since we’re hovering around the idea of selfishness we should discuss this also. Selfishness leads to a lack of commitment and effort towards another. When one or both partners in a relationship lack commitment, there usually is an equation that equals relational disaster.

Self-centeredness in a relationship is a death knell. If the purpose of a relationship is based on self-centeredness, this is a sign of a dying relationship. Our society encourages selfish relationships. God, on the other hand, desires that all relationships be based on selfless love because it pushes towards others-ness. Selfishness precludes true love for others. It precludes meaningful sacrifice.

2 Kings 17:15 ~ “They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”

A more contemporized example looks like this. Just as in a marriage, we have an opportunity to start another relationship and jeopardize the one we are in. Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should necessarily do so. We should not selfishly go off chasing wild goats while the very sheep of our fold are spiritually starving. Said another way, adultery is only a decision away. Just because the opportunity presents itself does not mean it should be pursued.

Galatians 5:13 ~ “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

What underlies a failure to commit is usually a rouge commitment or double-mindedness towards a coveted sin. If our purpose for living or doing something is not in the better interest of other people perhaps we should consider not doing it. If there is a choice, things should get done for the good of community not for the good of the self. Any purpose outside of God’s purpose for our lives is sin. Selfishness is not the pattern of Scripture nor is it God’s will for people in general. We see this most prominently in Jesus Christ’s life, His death and His Resurrection from the dead for us.

[Concluded in Next Post]

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