As a young man I often wondered why the church in Germany was silent while untold masses of souls were treated as subhuman, experimented upon, tortured, abused, and ushered into eternity during the Nazi holocaust. As one who was raised to believe that the Jews were God’s chosen people and recognizing that they bore the brunt of this abhorrent and inhumane treatment, I couldn’t help but wonder why the German church sat on their hands instead of standing boldly, acting out the faith which their doctrines and creeds demanded. Aren’t faith and belief action words? Doesn’t our action or inaction betray the true belief of our hearts? Or is there a place for justified concessions; if so, how far can we go down such a slippery slope until we’ve lost our footing altogether?
Those thoughts were fine and well until the Spirit nudged me with a 4×4 and I was brought face to face with the silence of the American church regarding cultural issues like the murdering of our young or the increasing acceptance of homosexuality. This, in large part, was thanks to television shows that either made the public laugh at our national sins or pushed us to feel badly about a character going through hard times, while making the church look unloving, unkind, or stupid. By the end of the program, the Christian would see the error of his ways, having a “faith altering experience” which broadened his understanding and acceptance. Many pulpits were largely silent on these matters, except for the occasional scheduled stand which usually lacked outrage. If pulpits are lenient in taking a stand, why should those in the pews be steadfast in such matters? The problem is that silence breeds more silence.
It wasn’t until many years later that I learned about the “Spiral of Silence,” a devastating vortex that grows all the stronger as it sucks multitudes into its ever-tightening grip. Eric Metaxas describes it well in his book, Letter to the American Church: “[W]hen people fail to speak, the price of speaking rises. As the price to speak rises, still fewer speak out, which further causes the price to rise, so that fewer people yet will speak out, until a whole culture or nation is silenced.”
I would add that when a church, nation, or culture becomes silent over one injustice, and the longer that injustice prevails, the easier it is to remain silent, or to be silenced, over other and worse injustices, even atrocities. Such was seen in Germany with the increased “othering” of the Jews. Some of the short steps would include making it illegal for anyone with Jewish blood to hold a government position – eventually spreading to other professions as well, forced to wear a “Yellow Star,” restricted to certain neighborhoods, and eventually rounded up for concentration camps. Had the German church stood strongly and been willing to pay the price at the first injustice, who knows what might have happened. Had the American church been the Church, standing boldly, steadfastly, and unitedly, when “abortion” or homosexual “marriage” were declared the “law of the land,” who knows what our nation would look like today. Instead, silence has bred more silence and apathy has bred weakness until the American church would not even stand when a tyrannical government deemed us “nonessential,” absorbing our freedoms into their ever-growing illegal network of power. In like manner, when the church allows one Biblical truth to be silenced, it’s not long until she finds it difficult to “find her tongue” when it comes to other Biblical truths as well.
We are beginning to witness the “othering” of Christians in America and of conservatives; will the church stand up or remain silent? Compliance or silence, from pulpit or pew, for even the “best” of motives only assures the rapidity of this “othering.” When she offers nothing more than what the culture offers, of what relevance is she? Too many churches and their institutions of higher learning have given up truth in hopes of relevance. They fail to realize that their only relevance is in Christ and His message of transforming power by the Word and His Spirit, making us new creatures – new thinking, new actions, new beliefs, new motives. Behold, all things become new! We are no longer conformed to the mold of this world but we are now conformed to the image of Christ. We live! We have joy! We have rest in Him! THIS JESUS is what makes the church (Christ’s Body) relevant to a dying world, a hateful and deceived culture, and those who are lost and confused. Without Jesus and His Biblical truth, we are NOT relevant, regardless of what we do.
Jesus’ truth is only truth when we share it with the tone through which it is given to us. That is a tone of grace motivated by love. In speaking of the Tone and Truth of Christ, one preacher wrote long ago: “In order to be really Biblical, in order to be completely Christian, we must unite the two. If a man wants [meaning lacks] either, just to that extent Christ’s Word does not dwell in him. If he holds the sayings of Jesus, but has not the spirit of Christ, that is, if he holds fast the sound words, but does not hold them in Jesus’ love, the dry theology may dwell in him, but without the quickening Spirit the mere theology is not the Word of Christ. Or if on the other hand he has the spirit of Christ, and you can see it in his holy life and his love to God, in his devoutness and heavenly-mindedness, but at the same time he is grossly erroneous on momentous truths, –Christ’s spirit may dwell in him; but without the revealed truth the holiest disposition is not the Word of Christ. In either case the mind that is in the man is not the same mind which was in Christ Jesus. In the one case it is not the same doctrine, in the other it is not the same disposition.”
It’s vital that the church find her tongue now! We must obey God rather than man, proclaiming truth with love, as watchmen on the wall. As Metaxas wrote, “not to speak an uncomfortable truth to someone who needs to hear it – and giving the excuse that we are loving them – is not to love them but to harm them.”
What are some of these uncomfortable truths, injustices, and atrocities that preachers and Christians should be compassionately and lovingly sharing?
The atrocity of unborn children being murdered and their body parts sold for profit. The injustice of very young children being deceived regarding sexuality from schools, entertainment, and the culture at large. The atrocity of teens and young adults having their bodies mutilated due to believing the lies from sexual activists found in our schools and culture. The unjust attack on the sacredness of marriage, life, and the Word. The atrocities that are led to by the seditious socialistic and communistic ideas that are being pushed through nearly every American institution – ideas that oppress the poor, rob us of our freedoms, and attempt to dethrone God. The injustice of those unconstitutionally held and mistreated, like J-6ers. The injustice of silencing those who would speak out against government lines, particularly COVID-19, its mandates, and “vaccines.” And the atrocity of a government forcing/coercing people to take an experimental gene-altering drug, especially with early reported negative effects and unknown long-term effects.
The church must find its tongue, speaking the truth WITH grace, regarding these and other issues. They are not simply political or cultural – they are Biblical and we are called to stand fast for the sake of Christ. We aren’t standing for ourselves; we are standing for Christ and for our fellow man. To the extent that we are heavy on either grace or truth – to the diminishing of the other – we are not presenting Christ or His gospel accurately –may the Holy Spirit guard us from either extreme.
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