Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Silence of Calvary

Declaration 8:  The new creation that I am uses her voice for encouragement, edification, Love, and Truth.  Strength can be exhibited in the quiet; and a calm response can change an outcome.   

                For Love was silent on Calvary…

Suggested reading: Proverbs 15:1, Matthew 27, Mark 15, James 1:19-21

Some of you may recall that during the past Lenten season, I gave up talking on Mondays.  It was a particularly challenging time for me, both as one who relishes words, and as someone whose home was undergoing a remodel [due to a flood] and was therefore the opposite of a silent respite.  Naturally, I failed; but along with my imperfect attempts came some wonderful growth.   One lesson that came out of my fast was how much of my non-silent time was spent nagging or scolding or rebuking.  And how grating my voice was when it broke the silence thus. 
I have been tasked with raising two beautiful and imperfect [they get that from me] children; as well as walking alongside and sharing life with a magnificent man.  And I can tell you that in these most important of relationships, kind words are received much more quickly than harsh ones.  I know that encouraging my children in good behavior is more enjoyable for all than rebuking them for the bad.  When talking over the difficult things of this world with friends, a tender response [which is sometimes just silence anyway] outstrips a haughty one any day. 

But what I speak has to be a mirror of truth.  I gain nothing and I help no one if I placate them with niceties instead of speaking the truth.  Encouragement, by its definition cannot be rooted in untruthfulness.  Edification cannot happen apart from honesty.  Love has to be true in order to be genuine love.  Jesus, the Word of God, was never false.  He was the embodiment of Truth.  He was also the Love in the flesh.  The two cannot be divorced from each other: Love is Truth, and Truth is Love.  Thus, whatever I say should first and foremost be true; and its delivery should always seek to lift up the person with whom I am relating.  Regardless of to whom I speak: my children or husband, a non-believer or an esteemed theologian, a friend or foe, each is worthy of love and each deserves truth.  

In light of today’s fast approaching election, I write this knowing that the climate of insulting rhetoric is as thick as it has ever been.  Colleagues demean one another, insolent youths threaten riot, and families are divided across party lines.  Yet, we cannot use our idealistic differences as permission to inflict harm upon one another.  For no matter how brutally we are attacked, or how vehemently we disagree with those who oppose our political bent, we must be truthful in love. 
And sometimes, when we are not being directly called upon to defend our faith, silence is the most loving course of action.  When we are sure that no further word from us will change the mind of the person standing against us; when we have exhausted respectful discourse, when they are completely unwilling to even consider our point of view.  For on the way up to Calvary, Jesus did not utter a word.  According to Matthew and Mark, once He answered Pilate, to make this mortal aware that the power to give Himself up was His alone, Jesus said nothing. 

Nothing during the scorging.  Nothing during the crowning.  Nothing during the long walk up Golgotha.  Nothing when He stumbled.  Nothing to His assigned helper.  Nothing as the nails pierced His skin.  Nothing until He hung upon the cross for every sin in all of human history, in the instead of every person who would be accept this sacrifice.  And then, He did not curse those who hung Him there, nor those who cried out for His punishment, nor those whom He loved but had abandoned Him, nor any person before or since for whose sins He was killed.  Jesus was silent, in spite of the insults and accusations hurled at Him.  He knew the Truth; He is the Truth, and yet in the time of such upheaval, when humanity refused to listen, He said nothing. 

So I have to ask myself, what weight do my words carry?  Are they worth breaking the beautiful silence for?  Am I just speaking to hear my own voice; or is what I’m saying important enough, true enough, encouraging enough, loving enough to spend the breath that Heaven has given me?  Am I using my words to answer for my faith, to preach the gospel, to encourage, to lift up, to love?  Am I doing the work of the Kingdom with my voice, or am I just making noise in an already too-noisy world? 
What if, in the face of those who persecute or mock or taunt or anger us we were respectful, but silent?  What if, in the middle of being called to give an answer for what we believe, we answered truthfully and peacefully.  What if, instead of engaging in and therefore encouraging debased insult-slinging that masquerade as political debates, we calmly and encouragingly offer our position, instead of becoming heated and argumentative ourselves?  What if, in the interest of genuine love, we listened carefully and thoughtfully to what our opponents say; rather than always having our stock defense ready, before answering thoughtfully and gracefully?

What if, against all the angry, cruel, and spiteful rhetoric, we offered no insults, no demeaning tones, no haughty response.  What if we offered our opponents Truth, encouragement, and Love?
For surely, if Christ can still His righteous tongue through to the crucifixion, I can ignore the baiting on facebook; I can listen to the opinions of my fellows and not have to answer their rants.  I can realize that without face-to-face interaction, I am unlikely to affect anyone’s encounter of Truth.  And if I try to do so without love, then I have no right to in the first place.             


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