Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Church

January 4, 2014

Clear communication is compassionate communication

I chuckle every time I hear this story.

It seems a poor fellow’s vehicle had conked out on the side of the road. After waving about like a banshee for more than an hour, he finally convinced a speeding motorist to stop and help. “If you could just push my car at a speed of 40 miles per hour,” the stranded motorist said to his newly arrived partner, “I’m convinced it will start, and I will be on my way.”

Sliding back behind the wheel of his car, the driver was relieved. The ordeal of being stuck in the middle of nowhere was finally over. He would be rolling again in a matter of seconds, all his worries behind him. Sadly, that exactly where his worries were: Right behind him.

As he waited for that gentle nudge on the rear bumper that would move him down the road, it never came. Looking around he discovered that his Good Samaritan had disappeared. What a cruel joke! Where could he have gone?

It was then that he saw his rescuer in the rearview mirror. He was a quarter of a mile away and bearing down on the broken down car at 40 miles per hour – just as he had been instructed. But the driver had not communicated as clearly as he had intended.

We Christians tend to bumble our communication a little more than most. In these harrowing days when fewer and fewer people seem to stop and listen to what we have to say, we sometimes think the answer is to scream a little louder. Picket signs. Demonstrations. Boycotts. Petitions. Displays of righteous indignation accompanied by red faces and bulging carotids. The result is indeed clearer communication. It’s clear that we are mad as hell about something.

Without a doubt most Christians want to see serious change in the world. I do too. I would love to see less violence, greater compassion, a moratorium on our limitless consumerism, and fewer public displays of vulgarity, just to name a few. But the solution is not to meet what we regard as societal inadequacies with the equal inadequacies of being judgmental, taking revenge, waging cultural warfare, and condemning every person who doesn’t agree with us.

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