How to Stay in the Conversation (Step 1)

If you do a quick Google search on the definition of the word “saturate” chances are the first definition that pops up is:

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In order to understand why “saturate” is such a critical word, you have to understand the context in which it is coming from. I posted a recent blog on the idea of resilient communication. As a follower of Christ, I desire both my character and priorities to be like His. Therefore, I must be able to stay in tough conversations even when it is not convenient nor pleasant to do so. However, we will not be able to do this on our own.

Left to our own devices, we will default into pointing fingers and heaping blame. In the midst of chaos and pain, there is only one who will see us through. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

The first action step in resilient communication is consistently presenting the same message verbally and non-verbally over and over again. The only way in which Christians can stay in tough conversations and then act accordingly is when we remember that God is a refuge and strength. Remembering how God is our refuge and strength enables us to weather the storm of criticism, pain, suffering, and yet remain unmoved in mission and motive. As the refuge, God ultimately takes the brunt of the attack for us (Ps 57:1).

I asked a few others to help articulate the idea of saturating communication.

“Saturation in Jesus’s model is seen as much in rhythm as it is in my message. Regularly drawing away from the crowd for prayer; regularly explaining his message to the disciples; regularly spending time with both sinners and then religious; regularly proclaiming and sending others out to proclaim the kingdom; regularly refining his followers understanding of who he is and why he was sent to earth. Saturation is much more than a message and encompasses all of life presenting the same God-centered message. Jesus did not just say “seek first the kingdom of God” he himself sought first the kingdom of God. Saturation came through the message and the embodiment of the message.” – Andrew

Saturation is consistently presenting the same posture both in word and in deed until there is no room for any other discernable motive of my actions by the other people than that of genuine love. In communicating with others, a Christian’s posture should be so soaked in humility and grace that it overflows into the lives of others no matter the conversation. Basically, the person whom I am first listening to, and second speaking with, should see and hear a systematic kingdom worldview being expressed–because I am shaped by Christ I value you.

Please do not misunderstand valuing someone for agreement with someone. Valuing them is setting aside your response to what they may be saying in pursuit of giving what they are expressing your full attention and staying curious about it.

We have all been on the wrong end of mixed messages. It is not fun. Mixed messages usually cause conflict, harm, and prolong the underlying issues. Mixed messages do long-term damage because one side usually gets fed-up with the inconsistencies of the other. Frankly, mixed messages deteriorate the trust between people.

Christians are people shaped by the Gospel–the implications of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ.

When we are prideful enough to prescribe a solution to a problem when the person whom we are prescribing the solution to does not feel valued and loved, we are sending a mixed message. In fact, in our arrogance we are undermining the Gospel. Pride is the antithesis of humility. A display of pride does not saturate the conversation and instead absorbs all the equity between participants.

In essence, humility is laying down your rights for another’s (Phil. 2:3-4).

Regardless of the context, Jesus consistently presented a message about the kingdom  (the way) of God. The way of God which Jesus presented was both consistent with the Law and the Prophets as well as His own actions. Jesus did not just talk about the kingdom; Jesus lived the kingdom. He did so with expressed humility as Paul articulates in Philippians 2.

Jesus’s life was a life of giving–giving away what the Father had given him (John 15:15; 17:4, 8, 14). Jesus gave himself to those about him so that they might come to know through his life a similar commitment to the mission for which he had come into the world. In everything, it was made abundantly clear that the word which had been written in the Scriptures and the word spoken by Christ were not contradictory, but rather complementary to each other; Jesus’s actions clarified the motive behind the mission. Here’s the thing, consistency is key because people will not always get the message you try to communicate.

My friend Spencer rightly articulates that “Saturation is when the message finally sinks in.” Spencer continued, “When I think of this in Jesus’s life, the first thing which comes to mind is how Jesus repeatedly told his disciples he must die and after three days rise; and, their repeated failure to understand why.”

However, it was only in experiencing the implications of the Gospel when Jesus’s message and model finally sunk in. In experiencing the consistency of Jesus, people responded with self-judgment because they realized how inconsistent they were. Jesus did not ask anyone to do or be anything which first he had not demonstrated in his own life. The first-century audience could not stay in the conversation because their lives were not willing to lay down their conceptions in exchange for the kingdom posture embodied in Jesus.

The message we want to saturate our world with is one of God’s grace and love for us, our gratitude and humility toward him, and our hope in the middle of chaos and pain.

Let that message saturate your worldview so that your model of that message begins to saturate the world.

 

 

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