Monday, October 19, 2009

Paper about communication

It has been said, “One cannot not communicate.” When addressing the issues of communication one cannot forget this mantra; it is an un-shaking principle of the lives we live. From the very beginning of creation, man has always been in communication. He has been in communication with God, his surroundings, and his “self.” No matter where we are, or what we are doing, we cannot help but communicate.
The first picture of communication that we have is from the book of Genesis in the Bible. It is there we have a beautiful picture of the creation of the world as God perfectly spoke, communicated, his creation into existence. In Genesis 1:26a God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (NIV) It is here we get a glimpse of God’s perfect communion within the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see that communication was happening before the creation of the world. Before time began the Godhead was in perfect communion with Himself. This communication continued into creation though; as God communicated both work and rest. (Genesis 2:1)
Genesis 1:27 tells us that man is made in God’s image; therefore it is natural for us to conclude that we are created to communicate. God has created man as his image bearer; his representative, his communicator. Because of the fall, man cannot live up to this role; however, through the work of Holy Spirit the Christian can. We are therefore called to expand the Kingdom of God through the intentional communication of the love of Jesus Christ. As renewed image barriers of God we continue to create in our communication; and through this process we honor and glorify him. What does this look like in everyday life though?
It all really starts with “self.” How do we see ourselves? What is our identity as human beings wrapped up in? What is our worth, our self-esteem; and how do we determine it? Much of this is determined by how we see ourselves in the light of others; and how they see us. As we compare ourselves to those we have communication with, we gain a sense of self. This for the believer though is flawed, we are stamped with the image of Christ, and we are therefore to look to him for our concept of self. As we begin to grasp the idea that our own self-concept is not to be based on the fallen, but on Christ, we are able to see the role of communication within inter-personal relationships.
Interpersonal relationships, a relationship between two or more people, come in many varieties. Studies have shown and made it abundantly clear that we are created to live in community. Interpersonal relationships range from the casual acquaintance, to the most intimate of relationships between husband and wife. They are often influenced by things such as status, power, gender, etc. These relationships are typically built with those who live near us and have similar interest. The culture we live in also has a huge role in determining what we see as the norms for interpersonal relationships; and our roles in them. A major part of our interpersonal relations goes back to our concept of self, because our self-concept will always influence our relationships. How we view self affects how much we disclose in a relationship and the level of health that relationship will have. As believers, our most basic forms of interpersonal communication must intentionally communicate the love of Christ.
We cannot address the theology of communication, self, or interpersonal relationships without diving into intercultural context as they are all truly intertwined with each other.
For me intercultural context is best described through the refugee family that our church adopted in 2008. Before they came we had to go through training sessions to prepare to interact with them. Because Iraq is largely a Muslim culture we spent much of the time learning to interact with Muslims. When our refugee family arrived in America we discovered they were not Muslims, and came from an entirely different culture, Sabean Mandian. Although from the same country; their cultural values were completely different than that of Muslims. To communicate well with them we had to learn the context of their culture. I will never forget some of those early meetings. How we misinterpreted the things we tried to communicate to each other through speaking and hand gestures. As a church we quickly learned that if we were to spread the gospel to these people that we were going to have to be able to relate to the culture from which they came from, and that we had to drop any of our pre-conceived “Muslim culture” notions. We had to lose our ethnocentric view of our culture, and begin to see the world from their cultural context. They also saw that we were not the television version of American culture that they had been expecting; and had to adjust some of their pre-conceived notions about who we were. As we learned from each other there was an intercultural context being shared; and we learned through that context that all communication barriers could be broken down.
In this paper we have examined the facts that, “One cannot not communicate.” We are created to communicate; and we create through our communication. To properly communicate we must examine self through Christ Jesus. We looked at how we are made to live in community; and how that is expressed through interpersonal relationships. We also looked at the intercultural context of the world we live in and how it affects all of us. As we have examined each of these areas we have seen that we cannot escape communication! So we should learn to do it well; and then be intentional about how we communicate in every part of our lives.

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