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The first Electric Light Orchestra album released in the United States was entitled, “No Answer.” In December of 1971, the UK band had already released the album at home eponymously. Why is there a difference? In the US, ELO’s music was released through United Artists Records. Someone from UAR had attempted to contact ELO’s manager to ascertain what the album should be titled for its US release. Unable to reach him, the UAR representative had simply jotted down the words, “no answer.” For whatever reason, this message was interpreted by UAR executives as what the band had intended for their album to be called in the United States. Therefore, in early 1972, the American public was greeted by a new British band, Electric Light Orchestra, and their first studio recorded album, “No Answer.”  This was not the first time that miscommunication had led to an odd title being assigned to a UK band’s album upon its release in the US . The Byrds had one of their albums released in the United States with the title, “Untitled.” These examples of miscommunication led to some rather amusing results. When such miscommunication takes place in personal relationships, however, the results more often are destructive.

How many relationships have been severed because some miscommunication led to an argument? Usually this is precipitated by the injured party’s failure to discern what was actually said or meant by the one they have perceived as injuring them. Sadly, rather than going to that person, on many occasions, they will go to a third party, usually sympathetic to their interests. At this point, the one originally misunderstood has two people angry at him or her without cause. Perhaps, in response, this misunderstood person will likewise go to yet another party, someone understanding of his or her position in the matter. It is amazing to see how many people can quickly become embroiled into something that ultimately is only a misunderstanding between two people!

Believe it or not, New Testament scripture addresses this problem and provides a solution. It is probably one of the most ignored precepts of Christian doctrine. This precept was given by Jesus Himself as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Matthew 18:15-17). Whenever you feel that another party has done something injurious to you, you are to go to that individual privately in an effort to resolve the problem. If that person will not listen to you, then you are permitted to bring one or two others with you in another attempt to be reconciled to him or her. If that fails, then you have Biblical permission to bring the matter to the attention of the greater community as a whole. When the community (in this instance, the assembly or church) encourages that person to be reconciled to the other party and he or she refuses a third time, then one is allowed to formally sever that relationship. It should never be done, though, before that person has been given at least three opportunities to redeem his or herself.

The next time someone says or does something that you do not understand, give them the benefit of a doubt. Go to them first. Do not gossip about him or her to another. Do what you can to fix the problem as soon as you can. The last thing that you want to happen is for observers to label the unfortunate incident under the title of “No Answer.”