When Communication Breaks Down

Have you ever met someone online who simply copies and pastes Scripture after Scripture after Scripture. No comment or explanation, just Scripture. I am sure there is a message they are trying to make, but they never make a point, they simply continue to post Scripture after Scripture.

I run into several folks like that. Recently, I had to ask one brother, “Do you have a point in all of these verses? I mean, we can quote all kinds of Scripture, but it would be more helpful to make a point to your comments (also, shorten it some).” I added the parentheses because he had posted, I would estimate, fifty Scripture passages. I wasn’t sure when it would end.

His response was rather pointed, when he said, “Really? I think they make perfect sense. Did you even bother to read them?” Then copy/pasted even more passages. I presume on the importance of the Scriptures and reading them. I’m not sure.

After reading all of those passages, I replied, “Yes, I did read them. But wouldn’t it have been much simpler for everyone, if you actually stated what you had to say, and allow your words to be THE Word. We are told that we are the ‘Living Letters‘ of God to the world.” Which then resulted in him copy/pasting another fifty or so passages.

So, in order to prove my point, I did the exact same thing. And for the sake of brevity, I only posted about twenty passages and then wrote, “I have just done the same thing. Posted several Scriptures, that are absolutely correct. However, if we put them into context by those who spoke them, it would be much more uplifting and constructive.” But then I asked him to consider our Lord. He never stood on a mountainside shouting out a bunch of Bible Verses! Even Paul, John, and Peter wrote wonderful letters, offering excellent messages, but only used Scripture when needed, to enforce or to explain what they had just said. Can you imagine Paul writing a letter to any of the churches and simply make it a list of Bible verses? Which was followed up with another batch of Bible verses.

I was trying to be patient and not to be rude, when he finally used his own words. Writing, “This is the living waters whether you recognize it or not.” Ooh, ouch. Bringing out a sword already? I guess he didn’t want to actually communicate and took offense to my suggestion.

He again posted many passages, mostly chastising me for being, I presume, insensitive to God’s Word and “despising” the Word of God; of being “ignorant” of God’s Word; and for the most part being just shy of the anti-christ. I would not be inaccurate to say he posted nearly sixty Bible verses that he copy/pasted from Bible Gateway.

Our “conversation” continued along the same lines, and I am being polite when I refer to it as a conversation, because all he added were pages and pages of Bible verses. My wife said I should just “block” him. But I was offended by his doing this, and I am far more patient with my attempts to communicate with people. No, I wasn’t offended, I was simply attempting to offer some advice on the “art” of communication. But he didn’t accept my help, and continued to chastise me and accusing me of “hating” the Scriptures and having no love for “God and His Word.”

I appreciated my Pastor’s view:

Posting endless stuff on facebook, you know the sort of thing: ‘like’ if you love Jesus – is not evangelism, or even ‘witnessing for Jesus’ (being a ‘witness’, being the salt and light of which Jesus teaches and expects of us, is something we are – not something we do): and, to that end, neither ultimately is just posting endless verses of scripture on the many social media sites that proliferate the ether.

i know folks who post endless movies of cats and dogs ‘being cute’. Folks just tune out. Communication is subtle and always has a nuance woven into the discourse, and even if we think it’s not there, it is. There is a difference between being a fool for Jesus and just being a fool posting endlessly in the name of evanagelism/witnessing – or at the very least, there’s a chance that folks will think you’re foolish…and tune you out, and then where’s your attempt at presenting the good news? Lost is where, in the madness and mind numbing pointlessness of what social media has become. Jesus wants us to communicate His love – the ‘thing’ is always to find out how…while being mindful of the subtleties and nuances.

When I finally, after having him post page after page of Scripture, said, “Brother, I have never insulted you, belittled your faith or even your apparent love and appreciation of the Scriptures. But you attack me and accuse me of being “weak in faith;” lacking a “love for the Scriptures;” being a “son of the Devil;” and on and on. I was attempting to help you to be a better communicator. It will help you in your attempts of witnessing and sharing the Gospel.”

When finally, he actually said something meaningful:

Really? As this is what your first response to The Holy Scriptures that i cited to begin your assult on me. “Do you have a point in all of these verses?” As i didn’t come to mock your post as i was confirming your post The Message that you posted IN THE WORD OF GOD. As the lady asked in it and i was answering what she asked. But you started scoffinng at HIS WORD AND DOCTRINE, not mine. Then you scoffed at the way i presented it by copying and pasting which is the same thing you did. You have been on my Friend’s List for years. But you seem to know nothing about me. You stand on the precepts of men. i stand on THE WORD OF GOD.

Well, there you have it! When I made my original comments, he misunderstood me. He took my words as being attacks against him! That was never my intent, but that was obviously how he took it. Here I was trying to help him to simplify his message, and my encouragement was lost. We had never communicated!

I bring this up because, as believers, it is important for us to understand the fine art of communication, why it breaks down, and how to prevent it from happening.

Way back in High School, during Debate and Forensics, we dealt with this topic all the time. Actually, you could say, we majored in the ability of communicating. During one class, the instructor gave us the top 5 reasons communication breaks down. Whenever there is a miscommunication of any kind, it is probably due to at least one of the things on this list. See if you agree:

Communication Failures

  1. Choosing the wrong communication method
  2. Responding defensively
  3. Failing to share information
  4. Failing to be direct
  5. Failing to listen

What do you think? Would you add anything to this list? As I said, this is an important issue for us to understand. I say that because over and over conflicts arise when there is a breakdown of communication. We see this between couples, co-workers, families, (people on Facebook) and even countries. Essentially, it seems that the key to being able to communicate is a combination of being able to say what you mean clearly and concisely, and being able to receive input from other people and then to adapt what you say, accordingly (as well as making them feel they can speak freely).

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your generous gifts.
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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