A failure to communicate
LIFE Outreach International
Strother Martin’s character in Cool Hand Luke could appreciate the problem we now have in our country.
It appears that our leaders in Washington, from the executive branch to the legislative branch and even to the Justice Department, can’t get along.
What we’ve got here is failure to communicate – and there is a reason. They refuse to listen. They believe that communication is a one-way street. State the case.
Stand your ground as unreasonable, unreasoning individuals. When the other side speaks, they cannot hear or refuse to hear.
It’s become impossible to find a sane solution for both serious and simple problems. The representatives defend their turf and position as though it is some kind of sacred and holy ground.
If married couples communicated like the U.S. Congress, the divorce rate would exceed 98% and those remaining would be simply hanging in there with absolutely no joy or peace.
The word of God speaks clearly concerning this very serious problem in Galatians 5 when Paul is talking about evidence of a spirit-filled life and the expressions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We seldom witness these in the home, business, or national leadership.
The same chapter refers to strife, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions and factions as the equivalent to impurity, idolatry, drunkenness and carousing.
In other words, when you demonstrate these characteristics, you cannot find the solutions to problems, nor can you have a meaningful relationship.
Our leaders in congress on many occasions appear to be very foolish.
To quote God’s word through his prophet Jeremiah, "They are foolish. They don’t really know him. They are stupid children who have no understanding and are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they know not."1
Isaiah said that the people are "dull of hearing and blind."2
On another occasion Jere-miah said basically that the prophets or spokesmen are in too many cases full of hot air and God’s word is not in them.3
In the same chapter, he said we have foolish, senseless people with eyes who see not, and have ears, but hear not. When God spoke to Isaiah and said He was sending him as a representative, he wanted him to understand that he was being sent to people who would be listening but not understanding because their ears were dull and their eyes were dim, and that they could not hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and return and be healed.
If you have been reading my commentary and hopefully passing it on each week, you will recall that I have been seeking to remind everyone that what is needed is a return to the foundational principles of our founding fathers who understood that the one unshakable foundation is the truth of God’s Word. We’re not talking about people becoming merely religious. In the early 1800s, Alfred Johnson said, "Our practice of religion is powerful enough to make us hate one another, but not powerful enough to make us love one another." Our founders were totally committed to escaping the religious coercion and persecution of Europe, so they wanted to establish a country where people could be free to worship according to their own conscience and respect others while granting all citizens the freedom and right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
James Madison said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, in accordance to the Ten Commandments of God." John Adams declared that our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people (and he understood religious people to be people of faith with a relationship with God the Father and the Creator). Adams went on to say, "It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." In other words, if you don’t live under control, you will be out of control and they understood freedom was not the right to do whatever you want to do, but the ability to do what is right and to practice self-control, giving respect to others.
The prophet Jeremiah said, "Stand by the way. See and ask for the ancient paths, for the way is good and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls."4 I have been saying over and over, we’ve got to return to the foundation our fathers established and the faith that inspired them to do so. Jeremiah said that if you would go back to the old ways you would find rest, but the people were saying in his day we will not walk in it, so God sent watchmen that were calling out to them and they still would not listen and they rejected the truth. As a result, they lived in defeat and bondage. We find ourselves right now proving ourselves to be fools. We refuse to really talk to each other. We talk about bipartisan and nonpartisan and yet we are more polarized and committed to our way – not necessarily the best way – but our own way at the expense of all others.
For example, in the name of helping people with their health, we are violating the very debt principles and credit principles that we have just punished and rebuked bankers for and warned them to never walk that way again while our government is digging the greatest debt pit in human history. While putting Bernie Madoff in jail for misleading people into poor investments, our nations’ leaders are about to use force to confiscate the productivity of every person who has a job and give it out at their discretion.
At the same time, we have leaders in the environmental movement who refuse to listen to dissenting scientific opinion or the will of the people and plan to circumvent the entire representative system in order to enforce their controversial agenda. Those who do not go along with their expensive, job-killing plan are being threatened by the Environmental Protection Agency and the courts – even to the point of imprisonment! It is ridiculous. It almost makes the comment from the prophet referencing people as "stupid" seem as if it is not a sufficient description.
Not any one of us can offer the perfect solution for all of the serious problems we face, but I for one can certainly say if we don’t learn to sit down and reason together and if we don’t understand that communication consists not only of speaking, but sincerely seeking to listen and clearly hear what the other person is saying, then no real problem will ever be solved.
Clear and open communication is what Betty and I have practiced in our marital relationship for the past 47 years. (And by the way, we have just written a book entitled Living in Love. I hope you will get it when it is released next year.) I know this is perhaps premature, but Betty and I have learned to listen to one another. We have learned that communication is not just stating our side of the issue, but a sincere desire to hear one another, and not just the words, but really understand the intent and purpose in order to deal with any challenges or problems. And we live in a joyful, love-filled relationship that God says people and individuals in any community can live in. He promises us His peace if we will move away from the unreasonable, unreasoning, divisive, mean-spirited attitudes and the idolatrous practice of worshipping our position at the expense of all people. It is amazing to me how we watch politicians campaign against the very things the last group campaigned against, but then put into practice and enforced. And the newly-elected leaders tend to do the very same thing because we, the people, tolerate it.
With God’s help I’m going to do everything I can to encourage couples, families, church groups, political leaders, and everyone in the media to begin seeking diligently a better way to communicate clearly and become a harmonious family, standing on the solid foundation of truth, respect for others, and a sincere desire to deal with the problem and not defend our position. And I am not endorsing or embracing a compromise of sound principles.
I’m not implying that we devote ourselves to a single party or to a third party which could be the likely result of refusing to hear one another. The natural reaction is to establish a new party based on sound principles, but it is actually best to return both parties and our people to sound principles – the principles of our founders. What the Bible refers to is the age-old, rock-solid unshakable principles. Our nation’s success and prosperity was built on such a foundation. Most of the problems we now face come from abandoning, violating or misrepresenting these principles.
I am stating as forcefully as I can that our refusal to sit down and reason together and exercise common sense for the common good and our refusal to seek to keep the spirit of unity in a bond of peace may be the greatest compromise on the part of both the church and the state. We have a lot to learn, but anyone who refuses to hear, will never learn anything of value. God give us ears to hear what wisdom says and, as Jesus said, "Let those who have ears to hear – hear. And let the church hear what the Spirit is saying." God help us.