Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Speaking out?


“But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12


There’s some mystery in that verse to me; “…aspire to live quietly…” I’m not sure what to make of it. I understand that as Christians we are called to engage culture and to “have a spine” but here, in 1 Thessalonians, the writers says to do something very different. To me this verse doesn’t really fit into scripture, I especially think that in light of the noise so many Christians make. I’m trying to make sense of it. About what are we supposed to be quiet?

While we were in Sacramento we saw some “Gay marriage” protestors (the ones in the picture). They were not being so quite. If you look at the sign it’s pretty loud. Immediately when I see things like this, let me be honest with you, I want to hate the people carrying the signs. I want to take them out back and show them what sin looks like (catch my drift?). I want to but I don’t. I talk myself into remembering that God loves them too and then, in a reluctant way, I begin to love them. I think of them as misled with good intentions.

There’s a law in America that says something to the effect if you are witness to a crime and could have helped stop it you are an accomplice. We are required by law to speak out on things. God called many people to speak out throughout the scriptures as well. In Ezekiel 16 God says to Ezekiel “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her loathsome sins.” Not only Does God call Ezekiel to speak out but He calls him to speak out about their sins. Is this not what the protestors are doing? Are they misled or am I? Are they supposed to speak out or be quiet? Why are both of these ideas taught in scripture if they contradict?

I have to ask, what kind of message is being sent through these signs? Are they really speaking out about a sin or about a people?

Ezekiel 16 is my favorite passage in scripture, it has been for a while, but every single time I read it I get something new from it.

There is some confusing language but here’s a summary; God tells Ezekiel to tell Jerusalem about it’s sins. He tells a story (He’s a good story teller) of Jerusalem. It starts out that Jerusalem is a baby about to die when God “passes by.” God has “compassion” and love for Jerusalem so He helps her to grow healthy and beautiful. God loves her so much, He marries her, and adorns her with jewels and food and all she would ever need. They are living together harmoniously and passionately in love until Jerusalem takes pride in her beauty and cheats on God.
She becomes a prostitute, worse than a prostitute. At one point she even denies payment for her harlotry. God decides to turn her over to her lovers who will pretty much rape her. They strip her of all her beautiful jewels and leave her naked. It does not end here… God remembers the covenant He made with her in her youth and forgives her. This message God asks Ezekiel to speak out against Jerusalem includes judgment but ends with hope, forgiveness.

I think maybe I can make sense of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Maybe our ambition is to live a quiet life and not make a stink but if the world makes a stink we have to speak out. But what is the message we are speaking?

Does our message end in hope; does it illustrate the beautiful love God has for us and tell of His promise to His people? Maybe the best way for us to speak out is to get our hands dirty and actually work out the problems with our “hands.”

If we feel it’s necessary to speak out against homosexuality (and I do believe that it’s not what God had in mind) then maybe just maybe we should shut our mouths and open our arms. Our message as followers of Christ who remember the cross does not end in judgment but in forgiveness. It does not point out how dark the dark is but it shines bright. It does not tell of God’s disappointment but his passionate love for His people. It, instead of holding signs on the street corners engages the lives of God's people.

“And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.”
Ezekiel. 16:62

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

Brilliant!!! Simiply Brilliant!! I don't know if you remember my post a few weeks back about when my husband went to visit the brand new Mormon Temple in Newport, but I was plagued by the same questions. The protestors outside of the Temple were "Christian" yet they were sending a message of condemnation, not a message of the love and hope that comes from being in a relationship with our Lord and Savior.

You put your words so beautifully and I love the pieces of scripture you used. Thanks for sharing and for helping to educate and stimulate the thinking of all who read your blog!!! Happy Tuesday!

WES ELLIS said...

I remember your post stephanie. It was an amazingly sa story of missing the point.

http://beingthelight.blogspot.com/2005/08/embarrassed.html

everyone copy this link and paste it in your adress bar... it's an awesome and pertinant post.

Pastor Art said...

Paul also speaks of a life of quietness in his first letter to Timothy chapter two verse two as the object of answered prayer concerning leaders of society so there is minimal conflict while living in said society.

First hand experience has taught me that waving signs in peoples' faces and acting as an anarchist madly shouting out the sin concept at deceived people just reinforces that we are nuts and uncompassionate, then it follows that the god we are speaking for is as we.

If we are able to move about freely within society unrestricted quietly speaking about Yahweh the God of mercy knowing the weakness within each of us and compassionately work through the questions fears doubts and what have you of even the darkest of sinners their life can be influenced and with longsuffering (have we heard of that somewhere - see the fruit of the Spirit) brought to the understanding of Yahweh and His salvation for them. People who are confronted in a battle mentality will react in battle defense mode.

Tender quite tending to wounds regardless of the status of the healer, of the wounded, opens up quite reception of acceptance and a memory of interaction that brought peace instead of confrontation.

The confrontation must be tailored toward the issues not the person. This can only be accomplished over time starting with spiritual confrontation - various types of prayer. Then through instruction leading to a world - view change and changed understanding of life not an outward capitulation through protest, law, or shame but by coming to an understanding of the one outside the confines of their thinking and slowly like working a field till the soil uproot weeds water turn what truth they already know into complete truth. This type of activity can only be done in a cultural setting where we are not in a state of persecution IE a quite life. This quite life then allows us to confront effectively in disciple making. The fallacy propagated by the church for to long is that disciplining begins after conversion. That is just not true the doctrine of prevenent grace speaks to this. People do not make a true commitment to anything unless they understand. We are to begin discipleship before conversion therefore bring people to Christ not forcing them to capitulate because of fear birthed from ignorance. This action of the Holy Spirit’s drawing of men to the Father is the purpose of our lives and status as the Body of Christ to be the catalyst for the Spirit’s work in the Earth. This is the confrontation!
Pastor Art

Teresa said...

I remember that post Stephanie and I loved it! It impacted me greatly as does this one. I think that maybe, we should "show" more than we "speak". Maybe that is what it means. If God's love is an action, His love gives us an oportunity to "share" Him and His truth. The sign is not LOVE. To quote Casting Crowns: "If we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching...?"

Kim said...

Love this :). Great post.

Flip said...

Thank you for posting this Wes. You know I have tons to say on this topic - but you've said it well.