Silence Is Assent. Silence Is Denial. Silence Is The Mark Of A Spirit Neglected And Fettered.

“We do not have the right to be silent sentinels. We must cry out when we see evil being done.”

Charles de Foucauld

We cannot be silent because its easier.  We can’t be quiet because it’s “not our business.”  We can never keep to ourselves knowledge of error and evil that affects others, and we must not believe that we are free to speak only when we have the solution to a problem before us.  Above all, we must never be silent, whether evil slips through our midst or stampedes over us, because it seems that others are more competent or more called to address it.

A more clever lie the enemy has never wrought.

The very strength of the Body of Christ is the commandment to use the gifts given those who comprise it.  The assembly of saints that we call the Church is an assembly of those gifted by the Spirit to do the work of the Spirit — to defend the Gospel and proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ through love, through truth, and through the faithful exercise of our gifts in the fulfillment of the Gospel mandate.  We each are gifted, literally and figuratively, with a voice.  We each are gifted with a Spirit-informed conscience that sighs, squirms, and sobs in the face of oppression, debauchery, violence, and falsehood.  That conscience is the voice and testimony of the Lord Jesus, and it demands to be heard.  The one obedient to the Almighty will not deny it its voice.

What transformation would be ours to behold if the groans and utterances of the Spirit in response to evil and error were given voice by His Body — with feet standing sure, hands extended, voices raised in prophetic hope, and eyes focused on the One who equips us.  That equipping, that strength, isn’t intended to be used in containing and restraining the voice of truth.

The strength we’ve been given is in accord with nothing more, nor anything less, than the will and the power of the Spirit of Jesus.  But the Church has too often applauded those whose efforts are focused on remaining silent and enforcing silence throughout those around them.  In a sinful world, their efforts are doubled, whether frantically or smoothly, to ensure that the Church never offends, never disrupts, never causes the world around it to stumble, by remaining placid and undisturbed in the face of evil.  It looks like a heaven-focused serenity and a cross-honoring quiet faith, and it fools those within the Church and outside of it, especially in the midst of the chaos roiling around it.

But it is neither.  There is no serenity that comes from the denying of truth, and there is no honoring of the cross in the bliss and willfulness of ignorance acquired and nurtured.  The lament and groans of the Spirit are soul-sounded not for us, but for a world dying for lack of hearing.  Those laments and groans are the cries of the oppressed and the wailing of the wounded.  Those cries reach the LORD above, as the Word promises, and they are never loosened in vain.

The question for the Church today is simply whether we will allow those cries to reach those around us — the oppressed and the oppressor, the wounded and the wounding, and the victimized and the victimizer.  The Spirit has much to say to them.  Whether they hear or not is largely up to those of us in whose hearts He speaks. 

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