We live in a day in which email correspondence is taken so seriously that it can spell disaster for politicians, a day in which so much of our communication is available on the internet that the information that we CAN attempt to control, we do attempt to control. Communications scholars have been interested in this turn. It appears that, as a culture, we are learning skills of how to communicate privately, but we are losing the ability to communicate personally. We may be able to communicate in a very private way through SnapChat, but we are unable to hold a conversation of almost any depth for longer than 15 minutes except with our closest (and therefore more private) friends.
As we make this cultural move to private communication, it is natural for us to start thinking of our communication with God as private, rather than personal. Assuredly, our God does keep some things private – namely our sins. That is why I (Pastor Jay) took a vow in my ordination to keep secret all sins that are confessed to me. However, we can overstate the “private” nature of our God, especially to the exclusion of the “personal” nature of God.
This Sunday we confessed the 2nd part of the Article on the Holy Spirit in the Creed:
What is the third article of the Creed?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the Life everlasting.
What does this mean? (Part 3)
In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. This is most certainly true.
The 3rd article makes a point of God’s personal communication with us. When God communicates with us by His Holy Spirit, He is talking to us, but He is talking to us in a crowd of people – that crowd is His Church. He is speaking directly to us, but He is speaking purposefully in earshot of others. He is speaking to others and is speaking purposefully in our range of hearing as well.
Why is this? Well, because God has already declared us as people who have nothing to hide. Nothing is lurking in our email inboxes that He hasn’t paid for. Nothing is being confessed that hasn’t been taken care of. We need have no fear of “correspondence leaks”, because there is nothing in our correspondence that God hasn’t made holy by the work of Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us, rather, as brothers and sisters. He speaks to us as if speaking to family members who know each others idiosyncrasies, and even each others sins and mistakes – and still love one another. You have no need to hide here. You have no need to be private. Because the Gospel is personally delivered to you.