You communicate with people every day. But have you ever considered how your communication works?
One person initiates. This person has something to communicate, and he or she does something communicative. But communication has not yet taken place.
At least one other person must receive the communication. This receptor perceives, comprehends, and responds. Only at the end of this process would we say communication has taken place.
Let me illustrate.
A woman gives birth to a baby. She holds the child, cares for the child, and speaks to the child. But without understanding and response from the child, there is not yet communication. We might say the woman communicates to the baby. She babbles, coos, and sighs with delight. We would not necessarily say she has communicated with the baby.
Now it’s a different story if there’s a give and take. If the woman offers bottle or breast, and the newborn starts sucking – well, now we’ve got some communication.
Here lies part of the tragedy of debilitating illness or injury. When a loved one loses the ability to communicate (through either unconsciousness or incapacity of some sort), we lose a beautiful but crucial part of the relationship.
Here’s another illustration. You’re driving down the highway, and you see a car about to merge into your lane. Being a courteous, defensive driver, you lift your foot off the gas to give space for the merger. You even flash your headlights to communicate that you’ll let the other car in. But if the car sits there unresponsive, there must have been a breakdown in communication.
Perhaps the other driver didn’t perceive your signals. Maybe he didn’t understand them. Or maybe he chose to ignore them. Whatever the case, communication didn’t happen. You go on your way, affronted by the other driver’s failure to fully appreciate your generous nature.
This two-way nature of communication highlights our need to study the Bible. God has already taken the initiative to record his word. Now we must receive it.
We must perceive God’s communication. This means paying attention to what it says and being careful not to make assumptions or import personal bias. We call this perception observation.
We must understand God’s communication. This means identifying the key points without distorting them. We call this cognition interpretation.
We must respond to God’s communication. This means changing our lives and being conformed to Christ. We call this response application.
I commend the OIA method of Bible study because it simply makes sense. Do you see how you use OIA every day? It’s how people communicate. It helps us to understand what God has communicated.