Silence, Mysterious Silence

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Churches talk too much. They moralize too much. They sermonize too much. When God speaks, it is usually in silence, the still small voice      (I Kings 19:12) beyond voice.

The Christian churches in the West have over-intellectualized too much. God is a mystery and there are times we should sit gently before the Great Mystery. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. Ecclesiastes 3:7 notes “there is a time to keep silence.” The trouble is so many do not know the time for silence, mysterious silence.

Sometimes the better agreement is silence. Sometimes the very best agreement is an agreed common silence. We of a busy time and age need to realize silence is an option.

I give you an example of where too much talking made things more divisive. In definitions of the sacrament of the Lords Table, some said (Lutherans) that God was in the sacrament like heat in an hot iron bar.

The Presbyterians and Reformed said God was not physically present but spiritually present at the Lord’s Table. The Roman Catholics said that in the mass the priest made God, that the sacrament turned into the literal body and blood of Christ. (Now this last Roman Catholic definition alienates me totally as obviously not so and more like an attempt to do a degrading religious magic act. Sorry but I feel what I feel.)

I suggest it would have been far better had everyone agreed to say the Lord’s Table was a great mystery better off not defined. But no one knew how to keep silence. They could not see the option of a silence that would not be so divisive to Christians.

I suggest we consider laying aside the theological needlepoint of the past that, while good in a museum church is not much good in a living church.

To have faith you need not go into how, why and quantify. You do not have to know the why of the universe to believe in God. You do not need to understand the motor in your auto to drive it. I can run a computer without understanding a computer. I can watch television without knowing how the pictures come through the air. To me these things are mysteries, but I can use them mysterious though they are.

 You do not have to understand your spouse to love your spouse. You do not have to understand your children on some things to love them. They are mysteries and love itself is a mystery.

Take up faith, not because you understand it, but because it helps. It works. Grace is everywhere. You may find through faith your measure of grace enlarges as you use it. That you will develop in grace through faith.

Only don’t ask why. Don’t demand explanations. At a time each day, be before God in silence. Be still and be. Sit before the Mystery. Let God be, that He may be in you.

If God comes to you by grace, keep silence before Him. Let God be before you. Let God be around you. Let God be in you. Do not forget Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 21)

To draw God may depend upon your ability to keep silent. Remember Jesus said that when you prayed, you should go into a small space alone, shut the door, pray in secret and that God would hear in secret. (Matthew 6:6) Silently, pray the faith, keep the faith, spread the faith by a quiet doing.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.