Mixed Messages

While I was in active ministry, I received numerous "pink slips" each day. Thankfully, these were not the kind of slips you received when you were being fired from your job! This was a small sheet from a pad of notes used by my administrative assistant to record information from an office visitor or a telephone call. Back in the day, this was a standard way to convey messages! Today, we have digital means like texting and voice recording technology on our smart phones that make communication more accessible and immediate. I know that office supply companies continue to sell a number of these "While You Were Out" note pads!

Adams Message Pad
officedepot.com

You hear a lot about "messaging" today! The dictionary defines a message as "a verbal, written or recorded communication sent to a recipient who cannot be contacted directly." As with a lot of words, we have conveniently turned them into verbs through our use and practice. (One of my favorite noun/verb conversions is plate! You plate food and you eat from a plate!) So, to message someone is to send them a communication! This word is also used as an adjective as in describing various "messaging systems." Isn't the English language fun?!

How important is messaging? I have heard during this past election campaign how politicians are convening staff meetings at the beginning of the day in "message war room" settings to determine the talking points for the day! News pundits and health professionals are repeatedly calling for consistent messaging during this crisis over the Covid-19 Pandemic. Mixed messages over mitigation strategies like the importance of mask wearing for others and for ourselves have been confusing.

I think about how important message consistency is in parenting. Kids love to pit mom against dad when it comes to messages. Their modus operandi (Latin "way of operating") seems to be "divide and conquer!" They will ask one parent for permission to do something and get a negative response only to turn to the other parent for a "second opinion" in hopes of getting what they want. In the essence of full disclosure, I am a doting grandparent and quite a pushover these days, but parents know the price they pay for inconsistent messaging. The best thing parents can do is to get on the same page with their parenting!

Jesus knew the importance of messaging! In one of my favorite passages in the Scriptures, He queried the Disciples about their perceptions of Him. In Mark's gospel, this messaging encounter represented a watershed passage situated squarely in the middle of his gospel account. The first eight chapters rise to this moment when at Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks, "Who do people say that I am?" (Mk. 8:29). Jesus wanted to be sure that those closest to Him got the messaging straight! 

When we reference Matthew's account, we get a full-orbed reply by Peter to the question about our Lord's true identity and mission. When Jesus asked, "Who do you say I am?" Peter responded, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus' immediate reply reveals the source of this revelation, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-17).

Pilate asked a probing question during Jesus' last trial about whether or not He was regarding Himself as a king. The Lord simply acknowledged, "Yes, it is as you say!" (Mt. 27:11). Not long after, at the place of the Crucifixion, those standing at the foot of the cross or passing by would see this placard above Christ's head in testimony to the whole world, "This is Jesus, The King of the Jews." After an earthquake, the Roman centurion, who was guarding Jesus, proclaimed His identity with reverent fear, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (27:54). 

Getting the message right is important whether you are parenting, influencing people of various political, social or theological persuasions, or fighting a pandemic! Let's not send out mixed messages or unclear communications! Instead, let's be sure our messaging is consistent, focused on reality and by all means, accurate! Many lives are at stake now and for eternity!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


Comments

  1. Alas, I am convicted! Clarity, consistency, accuracy and most of all.....LOVE. Thanks for this excellent bit of communal and personal admonishment Mike. You're still very much a shepherd of souls.

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    Replies
    1. I'm trusting the Good Shepherd to shepherd my soul, my brother!

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