Archive for » June, 2015 «

The Silent Treatment

Click here to read Psalm 108-109 on BibleGateway.com

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
 I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

SilenceBack in the good ole days of generally accepted child abuse, one of the favorite techniques of parenting was to give children the “silent treatment.”  Basically, the idea was that a parent wouldn’t talk to a child for a set amount of time (like a day or something) as a form of discipline.  Apparently, this was enough to ensure decent behavior out of rebellious children.

You rarely see that as a discipline any more, mainly because most children would pay large sums of money for their parents to stop talking to them. (historical note: this was far more effective when your family was your primary social interaction, rather than school/facebook/friends, etc.  The modern world has made this model virtually extinct.) However, it does show up in relationships once in a while, when one spouse tries to control the other by not speaking to them until they get their way.   In both cases, keeping silent is seen as a means of punishment, not as a sign of respect.

GOOD FOR THEE, BUT NOT ME

There is a recurring theme from secular commentators that “it’s fine if you want to be Christian, just keep it to yourself.”  That sounds all well and good, but unfortunately it shows a misunderstanding of what following Christ is all about.  To be a Christian means to follow Christ’s commands – and one of Christ’s explicit commands is to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15).  Therefore, to be Christian means, by definition, that we as Christians cannot keep it to ourselves.  If we do, then we are purposely disobeying Christ, and hence not Christian.  It’s a quandary, no doubt, but there it is.

Not only that, but sometimes the sheer joy of knowing Christ drives us to speak out.  A large portion of the book of Psalms (and elsewhere in the Bible) is people praising God, out of thankfulness, recognition of His greatness, for His deliverance, for healing, or a host of other reasons.  We are driven by God’s faithfulness to proclaim Him, not only in the church, but “among the nations;” that is, publicly throughout the world.

NOT STAND SILENT

In actuality, keeping silent about Christ is  one of the most selfish things we can do, not a sign of our respect for others.  Let’s pretend that you see someone walking down the office hallway towards an open elevator shaft, but they are looking down at a stack of papers in their hand.  As they pass your office, they mutter “don’t talk to me, I’m trying to figure out this pie chart.”  Which is more respectful and loving? Should you follow their wishes and let them plunge to their cartoonishly humorous demise? Or is the more loving thing to yell “Hey Bill, heads up!” Should you warn them of impending pain, or just retreat to your office because “they don’t really want to hear my opinion.”

Of course, we don’t have to be jerks about it.  We are supposed to share in gentleness and love, not in arrogance and bitterness.  You don’t have to punch Bill in the face to get his attention.  But our love for others should compel us to try to do something.  Jesus was rarely mean or insulting, but he never shied away from telling people the truth.

If we truly love God and other people, what else can we do?

 

Enter to Grow in Wisdom

Click here to read Isaiah 47 on BibleGateway.com

All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! – Isaiah 47:13

adviceFrom whence cometh wisdom? From thither once-unknown Hollywood stars? Yea, yonder unto the CNN.com? The Holy and Undefiled Fair and Balanced? Mr. Google?

Our world is saturated with information.  UC Berkely once estimated that all the words ever spoken by human beings could be stored in 5 exabytes – and in 2015 almost 1000 exabytes of information will pass over our Net lines. (Tech nugget alert: one exabyte is 1,000,000 terabytes.)   Every hour in 2014, enough information was consumed by internet traffic to fill 7 million DVDs, and it doubles roughly every 2 years.

DEAR OLD GOLDEN RULE DAYS

Unfortunately, information is not the same  as wisdom.  It used to be that schooling was a process of acquiring information – the multiplication table, the list of presidents, the alphabet and cursive all taught to the tune of a hickory stick.  That’s no longer the case.  Today’s students carry more information around in their pocket than students could have accessed in their city libraries a generation ago.  Finding out anything about anything is as simple as a vocal search command.  Make it so.

Today, education is less about acquiring information and more about determining what information is good. A 2009 UCLA study found the ability to critically evaluate information actually declined the more information is consumed; yet it’s amazing how many people on the Internet think they are they smartest Homo Superior on the planet, because they once looked up Albert Einstein on Wikipedia.  At some level, we probably all think “if everyone just had all the information I do, they would all agree with me. ”  We confuse knowledge with understanding.

LOGOS LOGIC

The Bible uses the word “fool” quite often.  However, it doesn’t really have the same connotation that we might think of today.  A Biblical ‘fool’ could actually be the smartest person in the room, but they lack wisdom.  In other words, they may be able to build a nuclear bomb, but not understand the consequences of that use.  We see this often in our world today.  People have the knowledge to find a sexual partner anywhere in the world – but not the wisdom to avoid it.  We can find free music/movies in about 10 seconds – but not consider that stealing digitally is no different than stealing from a store.  We can read websites that describe a thousand different worldviews, but not discern truth among them. So as a society, we throw up our hands and proclaim “whatever you find makes you happy, go for it.”

The Bible has the answer (go figure).  Proverbs argues that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (note: not “gaa! monster!!” afraid, but more like “whoa! Awesome!” afraid.  Fear of the Lord is knowing that God is powerful beyond our comprehension, not being afraid of the boogey man.)  If you want to be wise, you don’t need to spend more time on the Interweb; you need to spend more time with the Author of the universe.  Getting counsel from a thousand different sources does us no good if all that counsel is bad.  True wisdom and critical thinking comes only from pursuing Christ. Francis Bacon once said “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”

Today, spend a little less time in front of a screen, and a little more in God’s Word.  You’ll be the wiser for it.