Strategic Silence

Currently reading Richard Mouw’s Smell of Sawdust, The for my Revivals and Revivalism in American Christianity intensive at IWU.  In the chapter called “Real Evangelism”, Mouw quotes from Paul Tillich’s book The Shaking of The Foundations.  Tillich recounts Mark 8:30 when Jesus told Peter and the disciples “not to tell anyone about hm”, and goes on to make the point that there are times when “holy silence” is necessary.  “Should we not,” Tillich asked, “at least be silent, in order to preserve the mystery of the words, instead of destroying their meaning by our common talk?”.

Mouw clarifies, “Those of us who care deeply about the evangelistic ministry of the church make much of the need for faithful utterance.  But perhaps we should also think about the need for faithful silence.  To be sure, Christians can retreat into silence out of timidity or fear or embarrassment.  Those silences are regrettable.  But, there will also be on occasion the silences we struggle mightily within ourselves to maintain-those times when we hold out tongues against the overwhelming impulse to speak, because we sense that the time is not yet ripe for utterance or that we are not yet equipped to do the uttering.”

Translation:  Sometimes, we need to shut up.

I remember an incident during a Sunday School class I was teaching at a prior church.  I don’t remember the specific issue we were discussion, but one person in particular was really going at it, talking, and arguing, refusing to let it go, even to give an inch- he was right, and the conversation wasn’t going to end until we all acknowledged it.  Like hardcore…he was getting more upset.

And then, a line from Pedro the Lion’s “Forgone Conclusions” off of Achilles Heel popped into my head:

“You were too busy steering the conversation toward the lord
To hear the voice of the spirit telling you to shut the (edit) up
You thought it must be the devil trying to make you go astray
Besides it couldn’t have been the Lord because you don’t believe he talks that way”

I just wanted him to shut up.  In our dealings with people, may we learn that there are times to speak, and times to shut up.  Or, as Jesus put it…”Peace.  Be still.”


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Filed under Achilles Heel, iwu, Pedro the Lion, richard mouw, smell of sawdust

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