God speaks to us without video, audio, diagrams, emojis, or musical notation: we simply have his Word. But because it’s exhaled and made understandable by his Spirit, (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Cor. 2:13, 14), it has an incomparable communicative power (Heb. 4:12). In my three guest articles I’m meditating on that thought by examining some of the features of Scripture’s communication.
The aim, however, is not only to give praise for what God has said. I also want us to reflect upon our ways of communicating in the light of those features. Last time, I wrote about Scripture’s relationship to the voice before musing on translators and teachers. Next, I want to turn to the Bible and eyes.
From the beginning of God’s Word, we are aware of sight. The world is created by God speaking and then judged good by God seeing (Gen. 1:4, 12, 18, etc.). Two chapters later, the serpent invites Eve to have her eyes opened so that she too could judge (Gen. 3:5); it’s then through her eyes that she is drawn into the disastrous temptation (Gen. 3:6).
Words and eyes go closely together. Eyes can even communicate when words cannot be spoken, as Peter felt painfully on the night of Jesus’s arrest (Luke 22:61). Famously, the Lord described eyes with great solemnity as the ‘lamp of the body’ (Matt. 6:22) not long after recommending unplugging a roving, lecherous eyeball (Matt. 5:27-29). The Bible is concerned with our eyes.
How we thank God for this! We might be jealous of those who saw the Word incarnate and met Jesus risen from the grave, but a special blessing has been spoken over us unseeing ones (John 20:29) and Scripture does address our eyes. This should lead us to value everyday eye contact. Some things we will only understand about others when we can look directly into their eyes, and they into ours. Rich communication needs sight. Don’t let your messaging ignore that or your camera replace it. And as you remember our first parents, never send to another anything which would harm their eyes, foul their imaginations, or tempt their hearts. Scripture must affect our sight.
Then, also, note that Scripture is a story. It takes us from the creation of the heavens and earth, through the valley of the shadow of death, to the new creation. On the journey we travel with many people, chosen by the Lord to play their part in the tale he’s unfolding. It’s a story which develops and grows, expanding out with more and more glorious sights.
God doesn’t speak to us using only abstract ideas, doctrines, and laws. As valuable as those may be, God designed us to love flesh and blood narrative and wrote to us about kings, priests, prophets, sages, apostles, preachers, martyrs, men, women, and children — that we may hear his words in the midst of a thrilling tale of life.
Rejoice in this multi-century drama of people like us (Heb. 11), a community and history that we have joined. Adam headed up a family; Christ is the last Adam, heading up an eternal family (1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 45). We have been chosen to be included in the greatest family tale of all time, which God began writing long ago (Rev. 13:8).
That thought must shape our use of technology. Too many use modern gadgets for narcissism, articulating their story, feelings, and self-identification as of first importance. Well, we should want to hear the joys, sadnesses, and ordinary events of our fellow believers so we can love and pray for them and be inspired and edified by them. But let’s not become self-obsessed. Scripture calls us to flood our minds and hearts with God’s grand saga.
Two more thoughts, then, about Scripture and communication. Next month we’ll finish with a final two.
David Last is Pastor Forest Baptist Church, Leytonstone, London.