Communicate or Die!
Prince of Peace, speak to me now. Commune with my spirit as I meet with You.
Read Acts 15:22–35
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.  35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow good are you at communicating (and by that I mean both talking and listening!)?
The early church was not content with simply coming to a resolution. They knew the importance of properly communicating that decision to others, and they followed certain practices, which are helpful today when we consider maintaining good relationships.
First they know that just sending the letter is not enough. True, a brief, crisp communication is essential, but the personal touch is vital. The church identifies two of their most prominent leaders to bear the message (22) and instructs them to spend time with the recipients, presumably explaining and developing the themes of the letter.
Then there is the letter itself. They say, first of all, why they are sending it (24,25). Then they make it personal with the names of the messengers. And, lastly, it is crisp and clear. The wording is interesting: “You will do well to avoid these things” (29). This is advice, not the imposition of a law. Finally, the passage makes a point of saying how much discussion and teaching accompanied the letter (27,32–35). A few lines in a letter are never enough in themselves. Personal engagement and discussion/teaching is also vital.
Is this a useful checklist for your own communications? Write down these instructions in a list that you can reference in the future.
God, help me to be a better communicator so that I can share the Gospel and build relationships effectively.