Thursday, October 05, 2006

Communication Challenge

I just read a post by Tim Challies in which he offered a challenge to Christian bloggers. Here's a direct quote from the end of his post:
"Let us be certain that we constantly seek to serve and that we pursue holiness rather than popularity. Let us set the standard for respect and fellowship. Let us take the better path and show our love for God in our love for one another."
Earlier in the post he said this:
As Christians, we are called to a high standard--we are called to holiness. We are not to push the limits of what is decent and what is true, but to serve and to be a blessing to others. We are not to ask "Is this libelous? Will I be sued if I publish this?", but we are to ask "Will this serve the person I am writing about? Will this serve the church? Will this bring glory to God? Will this defend the truth?"

Excellent challenge, not only for Christian bloggers but for Christians period. We need to carefully evaluate all our communication and ask ourselves the questions in the last quote: "Will this serve the person? Will this serve the church? Will this bring glory to God? Will this defend the truth".

If you take the time to read the comments from readers under his post you get to see an excellent example of Christian communication as it should be - full of humility and grace, but, because we are human, far from perfect. :-) We all can slip up in the challenge to live right. The real test is in if we pick ourselves up after the slip up and do what we can to make amends for it or keep on sliding down. Commentors Dr. Mike and Ron both do an excellent job of picking themselves up after slipping and make amends for their slip ups rather than continuing to slide down.

Empty vs Full

I was reading Ruth a couple of days ago when a phrase jumped out at me again. In Ruth 1:21a Naomia says, "I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty." Years back Naomia and her family had left Bethlehem because there was a famine in the land. I guess they left because they figured they would fair better somewhere else during this time rather than toughing it out there. They moved to Moab. While they were there Naomi's husband and two sons died, leaving Naomi in a strange land with nobody, except her two daughters-in-law that her sons had married in Moab before they died. Somehow Naomi got word that "the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them" (verse 6) so she decided to go back to Judah. From the sounds of it Naomi and her family didn't fair as well as they thought they would. She tells her daughters-in-law that "the Lord's hand has gone out against me" (verse 13). When she returns to Judah she tells the ladies to call her Mara, a name meaning bitter, (verse 20) and she certainly does sound bitter. In the rest of verse 21 she says, "The Lord has afflicted me: the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." It sounds like Naomi has come to the end of herself and she seems to blame God for it.

There's something very curious about this, however. One of Naomi's dauthers-in-law, Ruth, must have seen a time when Naomi had great faith and trust in the Lord. In verse 16 Ruth says "Your people will be my people and your God my God." Ruth must have seen something in Naomi's faith in God at one point that made her have faith in Naomi's God, inspite of the troubles Naomi seemed to be having.

I think that happens sometimes. We have great faith in God but we start to depend on ourselves sometimes and slowly God gets put in the background and He has to allow us to come to the end of ourselves, to be empty. That, however, does not mean that we can not have a witness. Naomi obviously must have been a witness to Ruth at some point. Naomi went out full, but she came back empty, so she thought. I think God allowed her to become empty so that she would fill the place that He had planned for her.

Lord, help me to never be so full that I forget You because without You I am empty.