Saturday, August 1, 2009

Speak or Shut Up Part II

I hope you enjoyed Part I of my little scenario. The topic of discussion now changes focus.

Peter rose from his seat. "It's getting dark." he said quietly. He strode across the room and took one of the lit candles from a small alcove and began lighting oil lamps around the room. Paul leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes in weariness.

"You know Paul," Peter said as he lit a large lamp, "Jesus didn't always remain silent."

Paul opened his eyes and listened. Peter continued, "After the resurrection we were standing on the shores of Galilee. We had just finished a fantastic meal. All of us were gathered around him listening to him explain the scriptures and how the prophets and all the ancient writers spoke about him. I really didn't understand him until after that wild day of Pentecost when we were filled with the Holy Spirit."

"That was really the beginning, wasn't it?" Paul asked, knowing the answer.

"Oh yes. But I'm think about what he told us on the beach. I'll never forget how he drove home the point that there are times when not speaking up and remaining silent can be a collaboration with lying. "

Paul leaned forward. "I think I know what you're going to say, but continue."

About that time there was a sound of sandals shuffling from down one of the dark passage ways. Peter and Paul turned to see who was coming. Out of the dimness strode Barnabus. "Hey guys, what's up?"

"Oh greetings my traveling companion." Paul said with a smile. "Join us. We've been talking about the importance of silence and Peter was just saying something about the times when we must not remain silent."

Barnabus walked over to a counter and poured himself a cup of wine and gestured, "Continue Peter, but don't take all night. Paul and I must journey to the far country early tomorrow."

Paul shook his head and smiled, "Thanks for the reminder Barnabus. We rise when the rooster crows don't we?"
"Yes, Barnabus replied. The caravan will be coming by early."

"Well," replied Peter with a chuckle. "I'll try not to be long-winded. From what I hear, Paul is the one who has the gift of gab."

Everyone laughed heartedly.

Peter then continued. "Silence can sometimes be wrong. It can confirm a lie. It can reinforce cowardly living."

Barnabus interrupted, "You speak the truth Peter. Sometimes we don't want our comfort interrupted or have someone or something complicate our lives."

Paul nodded and responded. "Boy have I seen that Barnabas. Take today, Peter and I were just talking about it. Had I remained silent and closed my eyes to the wrong approach he was taking..."

Peter interrupted, "Had you done that Paul, you would have encouraged a serious lie of misrepresentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember when our Master rebuked the scribes and pharisees and called them hypocrites. Now that was a confrontation in which he saw the need to say something. Had he remained silent he would have said in essence that it was alright to devour the widows houses while they uttered their phony long pretentious prayers. He had to confront their injustices done in the name of religion."

Barnabas replied, "I remember the stories of John the Baptizer. Remember, he was the voice crying in the wilderness that Isaiah the prophet predicted. He reminds me that sometimes it feels like we are the only person saying what needs to be said. While everyone else is silent, our voice seems so lonely."

"But our Lord will not let our voices go wasted." Peter said with a strong gesture. Peter leaned against the wall crossed his arms and continued. "Sometimes we need to say what needs to be said and not worry what others may think of us. If we speak the truth in confidence and love in the power of the Holy Spirit, it makes no difference what other think. If we speak in God's power, and speak as one Body in Christ, we could change the world."

"That's why we speak against injustice." replied Paul rising and raising his voice. We can't sit by and remain silent while our society, our emperors, our leaders or neighbors comment acts of murder or injustice against one another. Our society values life so little. Our children are cast aside like mere animals. They have no value to their mothers or families. They are sacrificed to the gods in order to bring peace and prosperity to themselves."

"And husbands treat their wives unjustly as well." reminded Peter.

"All matters of injustice must be seen as inconsistent with Kingdom Living." responded Barnabas.

"And have you heard how now we are being told not to teach our children about our Lord?" replied Peter. "It's scandalous."

"Or even attacks against you my brother in Christ." said Paul. "When our brothers and sisters in Christ are slandered, oppressed or mistreated, we must come to their aid and boldly stand with them and speak up. That is all part of our calling."

Peter paced back and forth. "Not only injustice, but when good is done, we must speak up. We should always act out of hearts of love. So when the emperor, or city or magistrate or neighbor does good, we must speak up and praise them out of love. All good must be spoken well of as that is a reflection of the love of our Lord. We must couple fortitude with love. We must be good citizens, always abounding in love. Good manners are a part of speaking up."

"Oh Peter," said Paul. "You speak so much truth. If we can just get our brothers and sisters in Christ to realize that in this sinful world, even evil doers often do good. We must speak up when good is done and use it as a witness to our Lord. We must always avoid being sour and cynical and always judgmental when our enemies do good."

"Didn't our Lord say, 'Love your enemies?'" Barnabus said with a smile.

"Boy, that's a hard one, but you are so right." Replied Peter. "We must know when to speak, how to speak and when to remain silent."

To be continued....

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