Communication research tells us that less than 10% of our communication is verbal.
That’s an amazing statement. Possibly even a shocking one.
So what is the other +90%?
It has dawned on me over the years just how textual and verbal we have become in our modern world. Possibly most of it has been as a result of the advance in reason, knowledge and scientific thought? The sophistication of life and meaning?
So, can the same be said of the prophetic, the arts, music, teaching? … what about ‘church’? worship? teaching? preaching? informal and formal social activities, argument, persuasion?
Maybe scientific empiricism can be seen from a fresh angle when we consider that in essence all it demands is a practical, verifiable, hands on grasp of reality before any fact is established.
But somehow science is mostly seen to be at war with faith as faith is seen to be at war with science. Yet the same claim for a tangible basis for thought and belief is present in both.
The story of Christ is an amazing one. It is a story of God becoming a man, taking on the appearance and form of humankind. This is still very much a fantastic tale to this day. A story that is adored and embraced by some, scorned and rejected by others. A whole big chunk of our spiritual belief is based on this act. The texts we amplify as central to the faith are the ones that state that God came physically and actually did the things recorded – the miracles, the signs and wonders, dying, being raised from the dead and rising up in front of a whole group of people who together watched him floating up into the clouds, disappearing back to the place he came from. Back again to the heavens.
The story is that Jesus came to be amongst us. That he came to physically live amongst us. To actually touch us. Physically.
Maybe God needed empirical evidence?
He started by touching our humanity – he became one of us. He not only sampled our presence theoretically or from some place nearby or just next to us, he actually became fully like us in our humanity. God walked a mile or two in our shoes, with our feet.
It’s one thing to visit someone at their home and sample their food and an evening of social interaction. It’s an entirely different thing moving in with them and staying for 30 years. Even deeper is giving up who and what you are and becoming the ones you are visiting. Not just becoming like them, but actually becoming them (It’s a crazy concept to try think about but there is possibly a very big lesson to learn if we do).
One could even say he got lost in it. He departed from what he was. He left where he was. The narrative says that he became one of us completely. I wonder if this was what was meant by the ‘leaving and cleaving’ phrase in the book of Genesis?
The text suggests that he subjected himself to the frailty of our circumstance, our condition. He subjected himself to our customs, our social traditions, the code of the legal religious system. It was a huge sufferance especially in the light of his deity and where he claimed to come from. This is God we are speaking of here.
And so we believe.
He walked about doing things. Just normal things, like normal people do. Yet when people and things came into contact with him they acted in different ways to how things were normally. Strange things started happening.
The people of the day had the sacred scriptures. They had the sacred traditions. They had the culture. They had the code of the law and all these spoke of the Christ. All of these pointed to God. All of these proclaimed the awaited one, the Christ, the great prophet who it was promised would come and show the way. The great prophet who would make all things new and wrap up all the promises. Possibly even all the promises not recorded clearly in the sacred texts as well – perhaps even those that were whispered into the ears of Abraham long, long ago? Maybe Jesus was referring to this when he said, “Abraham saw my glory and was glad.”
Yet it all lay mostly dormant until this contact was made.
Even today, 2000 years after he walked around amongst us, when we reflect on the historical claims of the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, we too have the scriptures, the traditions, the culture, the testimonies, the code of the law in the form of doctrine (our own biblical epistles and gospels) … and all these still speak of the Christ.
But it’s only when intimate contact is made that things really happen.
Could it be that it is not so much what we speak about but that we speak, or rather that we move into the present space of others? That we make contact in the most basic, elementary way?
Could this be the real ‘apostolicity’ that Jesus spoke of? Could this be what was meant to “go into all the world…”? Could this be the ‘preaching’ of the gospel he called us to do? Not just with the regular 10%.
We responded to him in the way he did things as it is written down in the texts. In those same texts Jesus is said to have instructed us to follow his example. Not only in theory or ideal, not to simply relay the story, but in exact practical replication.
Didn’t he tell us to do exactly what he did?
Is this not our mandate?
To make contact…