There are letters of recommendation, letters of acceptance, letters of commendation, letters of refusal, hate, inquiry, love, complaint or concern. Although very different in the nature of their content each of these letters has a common purpose, they are written to communicate a message or to its intended audience. When we receive one of the above letters we know there is a certain “tone” associated with them. For example, a love letter will have a much different tone than a letter of refusal and a letter of hate will communicate a message clearly different than that of concern.
2 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Corinth. His letter varies in tone and subject matter as he try’s to communicate a number of things to the people. This is a letter written to commend the Corinthian church for responding to his earlier plea to love one another in Christ’s name and to remember how much He loved them. Paul wrote in order to help prepare the people’s hearts to live and give generously and with joy so that the work of spreading the good news of the Gospel would continue. He conveys a specific message surrounded by urgency and warning about understanding and recognizing the teachings and tactics of false teachers and prophets that have made their way into this family of believers. Paul writes with incredible passion, deeply rooted feelings and divine inspiration. He is writing from the deepest depths of his heart, a heart that has been radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.
Preserved in the Bible for thousands of years, the words of Paul have been interpreted, read, taught, lived out and spoken to generation after generation of people. The message communicated to the people in Corinth is a message that continues to cross cultures even today. It’s timeless reminders and commands hold true to who we are called to be as followers of Christ. This letter and many like it in scripture have the power to transform lives. As followers of Christ who have experienced this transformation we must continue to “eat, sleep and breathe” these inspired words from God. What does that mean for you? For me, right now, it means that through the work of the Holy Spirit my life I must follow as close to that of Christ’s life as I possibly can.
There are so many ways that we can educate ourselves about the art of communication. A quick Google search will list a variety of websites that gives us information like this: “The Three V’s of Communication” (visual, vocal and verbal), “The Three Dimensions of Communication” (miscommunication, attitude and mindfulness) and “Three Dominant Styles of Communication” (passive, aggressive, and assertive). All these tools can be helpful in understanding how to communicate effectively but when it comes to the gospel message the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy gives us some great keys to communicating this life changing message. I will call the them the Three C’s of Gospel Communication.
Christ – “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead… This is my gospel, for which I am suffering.” (2 Tim 2:8,9)
Confidence – “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so through me the message might be fully proclaimed.” (2 Tim 4:17)
Courage – “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)
Without Christ, the gospel message would not exist. Knowing, trusting and participating in the absolute truth of the reality of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is essential to communicating its significance and its transformational power. When we put our full confidence in Christ (knowing he is standing beside us) our lives become rooted in His word. With confidence, we can stand firmly on the promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. He works in us so that the message of his word will be proclaimed. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit through Christ and the confidence we put in Him. Sharing the good news of the gospel takes courage, a power that we alone cannot produce. God, through his son Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit gives us the courage (power) to stand against the forces of evil that work so powerfully to try and put a stop to the proclamation of the message of the gospel. Through Christ, confidence and courage the message of the gospel will continue to be spread.
For any large building project, there has to be someone who is in charge, a person who takes the responsibility to see the project through till the end. There is either a project manager or a site supervisor that oversees all aspects of the building process. Two of the biggest responsibilities of this important role is to communicate the building plan and set a timeline for the many different trades to follow. We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world and things go wrong, problems arise, people and circumstances fail. One of the most powerful tools in the toolbox for the project managers is clear communication.
Even before Nehemiah made his way to Jerusalem to take on the role of project manager for the rebuilding of the wall he had to communicate his plan to the King. Nehemiah made his request (he came with a well-defined plan, how long it would take and a list of resources and materials that would be needed) and the king granted his appeal. After an inspection of the wall and a good knowledge of what needed to be done, Nehemiah setup his work teams and started working on the project. Nehemiah, as project manager had some tough choices to make, he had to deal with persistent opposition, there were physical threats, false accusations and more as he tried to keep the project moving forward. With a solid understanding of what was required Nehemiah was able to keep his focus not only on the project but on the people.
Nehemiah communicated on two different levels with the people, one, through his words and another through his actions. Nehemiah stood strong in the Lord’s call on his life to be on mission to rebuild the wall. He prayed often for determination and strength to carry on, both for himself and for the people. Nehemiah prayed, “Now strengthen my hands”, this was a cry out to God for the power to carry on in the face of all that was happening. When I reflect the story of Nehemiah, it communicates to me a message of hope, a message that when God calls us to be on mission for him, he stays with us. God has the “blueprints” already drawn up for each and everyone of us. His word communicates the building plan that helps us live according to his design. It is our job as project managers to stick to the plan.