Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Quiet, Not Silent

“For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit.”

Contentious, evil people always take advantage of those who can’t or won’t fight back. If that’s not a universal truism, it’s as close to one as matters.

Our political, legal and social structures are so constructed as to allow the forceful and aggressive to dominate the peaceful.

The Quiet Get Plowed Under

At law, you have the right to defend yourself from a civil suit — provided you can afford your legal bill. If you can’t, and have the misfortune to come into conflict with the sort of slavering dogs David described in Psalm 35, expect to get chewed up.

In politics, the public discourse increasingly and relentlessly trends toward socialism, big government and sexual license. Why? Because conservatives are generally the quiet sort, and Progressives do not speak peace, but devise words of deceit.

Western societies are among a very small number in the history of the planet so “quiet” as to allow a small number of people with an agenda to give away their own countries. That very passivity originates in distorted Christian generosity and free-floating corporate guilt.

Only in God’s economy do the meek inherit the earth. Everywhere else, “those who are quiet in the land” can expect to be plowed under.

Moral Passivity and Cultural Invisibility

Now, if you think I’m going to suggest the answer is pushing for an overhaul of the legal system, more political activism or a feistier corporate public face for Christians, those are not really the kind of responses I have in mind. But David’s words apply pretty broadly, and Christians ought to be careful that aspiring to “live quietly, and to mind your own affairs” doesn’t inadvertently morph into moral passivity and cultural invisibility.

The godly are by nature quiet. But we should not be silent. As the writer of Proverbs puts it:
“Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are in the right,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”
Quiet, yes. But we must be careful our silence does not give the deceitful the false impression they are “in the right”.

Do Not Resist?

The behavior of the quietest of men and women may be a rebuke, but words must accompany actions at some point. The men of Sodom were offended at Lot even though he generously and incorrectly referred to them as “brothers”. But notice that he got the word “wicked” in there to rile them up. He was quiet, but not silent.

The Lord’s command not to “resist the one who is evil” is not a universalism. It has to do with how individual followers of Christ handle offenses against our own persons. There is nothing particularly moral or Christian about standing by and allowing injury to families, neighbors, churches or societies.

And the Lord Jesus practiced what he preached. When personally insulted, Isaiah says about him:
I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”
But insult the Lord’s loved ones?

Family Matters

It turns out that’s a very different story:
“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

“ ‘As you did not do it to one of the least of [my brothers], you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ ”
Where the Lord’s friends and family are concerned, it doesn’t seem to much matter whether the insult to them is direct, implicit or even a sin of omission. The consequences were — and will be — serious indeed.

Against Wicked-But-Accepted Practices

The gospels record that the Lord cleared the temple at least twice; and since, according to John’s gospel, he made the journey to Jerusalem only three times during his ministry, it looks an awful lot like the Lord stood up against the wicked-but-accepted religious practices in which his fellow Jews were engaged at pretty much every opportunity.

He was quiet, as the prophets affirm. He was not silent.

There’s an example in there somewhere.

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