Flights of Faith

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Silencing Ourselves, Silencing Others

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:12-17)

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. 28 Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. 29 Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. 30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. (Lamentations 3:25-30)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about silence (and consequently, speech). What a powerful tool Christ gave us to close our mouths and still our minds. It is the way we all prepared ourselves for the acceptance of Christ in our hearts. We silenced our mouths, cleared our minds, and took that leap of faith hoping God would reveal Himself and accept us into His kingdom. Throughout the past two weeks, I have been focusing on the tools that allow us to come to Christ and then seeing what we do with them after we become Christians. I’ve realized that post-salvation silence is either avoided or used way too much. That is to say, silencing ourselves from God is common along with slipping into a silence that supports the fallen nature of humans.

Both of these Biblical passages are a bit difficult but here’s what I got from them after some prayer and reflection. The second shows us that silence is a tool for spiritual growth and that it takes multiple forms: silence to hear God, silence to reflect on His message, and silence as submission in order to become an example. The first two should not stop with our declaration of Christ as Savior. They can’t stop there because then our faith would not be an active one. Silence can be a tool for asking God what is the next step in our spiritual development. Pray more meaningfully? Engage in theology? Disciple to non-Christians? Take up the cause of social justice? If we do not connect to God meaningfully ourselves, we either allow our faith to be compromised by the world or allow someone else to live out our faith from a different body. Our decisions must be ratified by God precisely because the inspiration for them comes from Him as well. Silence is one way to connect to Him.

However, this does not mean silence should be used because of a lack of complete understanding of something related to our faith. In fact, the first passage asks us to silence ignorant men with our righteous actions right after saying that we should submit to authority for the Lord’s sake. (Sidenote: I think “the Lord’s sake” is our escape route to question or challenge something that is clearly against God. My understanding of the verse is that it tells Christians we can remain free in God while following someone else’s orders. Something that was sure to be a big issue after Jesus’ ascension.) This silencing by Christ-like behavior challenges us to follow Jesus and not our culture. If we think something is wrong, we must rebuke it with our actions, even our speech. If not, we are giving it a green light. And because we named ourselves after our savior, others might take that as a green light from Christ. We can’t let our comfort given to us by the Truth of God limit ourselves from the uncomfortable nature of presenting our beliefs (in words, actions, or productive silence) to others who need a loving critique of their actions. And as the verse 17 says, we must have respect for everyone. This verse calls us to act with Christ in our hearts for those who need us, including those who have the most disrespect towards others and ourselves. By allowing silence in our lives to let God’s voice become clearer, we become empowered to respectfully silence others with the strengths of our living, breathing, and acting convictions.

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