GodReflection: Share It Again
When stepping outside the first evening I heard it. It was startling. A sound I had not heard for some time. It was the sound of silence. Do you hear it? Hear what? The silence. It was my first visit back to the USA when I lived in one of South America’s great industrial cities. We went to visit my parents in the far western edge of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.
When stepping outside the first evening I heard it. It was startling. There was no background roar. Rather, a sound I had not heard for some time was tangible. I could almost touch it. It was the sound of silence. Periodically, a breeze, a rustling tree, and a cricket disturbed the night, but the overall sound was silence. From life in a huge city that never slept, I had forgotten the sound of silence.
All these decades later, I still remember the feel of that evening under the desert stars as silence filtered out the encroachment of months of noise. The silence seemed to bring with it extra space within my brain, it calmed my emotions, and stilled my soul. For a short while, as I stood in the dark night silence, disharmony disappeared.
Let me shift gears for a moment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience that same harmony among followers of Jesus? Doesn’t it seem strange that we who claim to be disciples of The Prince of Peace find ourselves contributors to the noise and disharmony among those of us who claim to follow the Lamb of God?
I suspect were we to ask fellow citizens in neighborhoods, towns, and cities where we live, they might confirm we Christians aren’t normally thought of as synonymous with silence, peace, and harmony. More often we find ourselves as people who fail to be good practitioners. Most of us talk too much, offer too many noisy opinions, and are uneasy with quiet.
Membership of churches are composed of us fallible humans in need of continual transformation into the likeness of Jesus. Shouldn’t we be the ones who seek to discover why there is disharmony between churches and serve as ambassadors of peace?
I keep wondering what it might take to plant and transform churches that are faithful to God yet perhaps churches so different I might think them strange. What would it take to live among churches wired to show Jesus’s love and acceptance to different segments that are widely diverse?
Is it possible I could read the New Testament through a different lens? Too often, I see the Gospels as announcing the good news of Jesus and see the remainder of the New Testament as the source of doctrine for the church.
Yes, the Gospels teach me of the sacrificial gift of heaven to cover my sin and show me Jesus, how he lived and what he taught so that I can follow him in my daily life. However, the message of The Acts and the Letters is to show how I can live in a personal relationship with Jesus. These writings share examples of a struggling church’s attempt to follow His teaching and demonstrate His life.
Here is what I am beginning to see. There is a beautiful golden silence in the New Testament. The sound of silence plays in harmony with the Spirit. Paul tells me, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Is it possible if I were to give more credence to the silent places in Scripture, harmony with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would become easier?
For example, Scripture teaches me God is worthy of worship. Scripture teaches me worship must come from a grateful heart. Scripture does not give me an exact format to follow. Silence leaves the “how to” to flow from the heart.
Scripture teaches me to pray. Prayers vary in content and form from Genesis to Revelation. Silence allows the content of prayer to flow from my heart.
The Bible begins with a song of creation. Songs, hymns, and praises appear throughout the Old and New Testaments. Biblical silence doesn’t worry with mechanics. Mechanics as to how we sing is a non-issue in Scripture. God wants me to praise Him from my heart. His silence on mechanics allows great freedom for praise through song.
Scripture teaches me to care for the poor. Its silence allows me to decide how to help make a difference.
We fail and falter in our attempt to follow explicitly each command of Jesus. It should make us even more grateful for the golden sound of silence in Scripture. We don’t need the burden of living up to rules made by fellow Christ followers.
How about it? Maybe periodically we should step out under the quiet of The Holy, put ear plugs in place to shut out the noise of the city, and listen again to the silence of Jesus and the silence of Scripture. Perhaps we can become more of the church of Jesus, filled with ambassadors of peace, who demonstrate the harmony of our savior rather than the noise of culture. Do you hear it? Hear what? Is it the sound of silence?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on Can Silence Contribute to Peace?