I don’t know of any task more difficult than communicating clearly to another human being. It crowns the list of all other important tasks and is usually lurking in the dark corners of most all other difficult things. Yet communicating in our human way is also linked in some way to the very image of God in each of us.
The great reality of the Gospel is that God chose to reveal God’s self to us from the beginning. The lyric story of the Creation is paired with the conversations God had with the first humans. The great and faithful Abraham actually argued with God over the future of Sodom, another demonstration of God’s desire for Creation to communicate.
It’s little surprise, then, that God is disturbed when God’s creatures fail in their communications with one another. Witness Diotrophes of whom John writes:
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”(3 John 1:9–10)
Paul had harsh words for Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2 who were arguing about some matter, in this case, a very negative form of communication that was affecting the church.
It follows that Diotrephes along with Euodia and Syntyche are good negative models for communication, and these are their to-be-avoided behaviors.
- An absence of humility is manifested by demanding one’s own way.
- A go-it-alone kind of attitude was demonstrated by Diotrephes as he left the fellowship of the church. And it was also demonstrated by the way that the two women paid no attention to how their communication failure was impacting the Philippian church.
- Arrogance toward other Christians. Refusing to welcome them.
In the mindset of the west, the individual is all-important. But in the kingdom of God community rules the day. In the Trinity, in the priesthood of all believers, and in the one-another nature of the church’s fellowship.
Failed communications strike at the heart of what God desires from us.