“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
It’s been a really noisy year so far. It’s bound to get even louder in the next few months.
So many voices. So many tweets. So many FB posts. So many debates. So many non-stop “breaking news” casts. So many protests. So many riots.
And in the midst of it all, it seems the enemy attempted to silence our pulpits. Or, at least quieten them down or reduce their influence and impact.
And in the midst of it all we Christians have too often snapped. At one another! The emotional strain of all the voices in our ears driving us to sometimes prioritize policies and preferences over people. To wrongly caricature those in our church family who hold different opinions on tertiary matters. Forgetting not one of us has all the truth about what in the world is happening to our world.
We have even at times blocked one another. Silenced one another. And in some cases (gulp!) even unfriended one another. In the same church family! To the very ones God says we are “one body” with, and simply cannot do without (1 Corinthians 12).
Preaching through Colossians this year has been enthralling. At least it has for me. I cannot speak for my poor listeners! Today, as I kick off Labor Day weekend with all my fellow Americans, and my precious church family, I prepare to preach about the great struggle Paul had for the churches of Colossae:
“That their hearts be encouraged, being knit together in love” (Col 2:2).
This is Paul’s great wish. His great strategy for the Colossians Christians to not be tricked by false doctrine. To live out the faith together in mutual encouragement and love. The Greek text reveals that the same kind of strength and courage given to us by Holy Spirit God is precisely what Paul has in view for the church. We are to be imitators of God. We are to share the encouragement and comfort He has given us with one another (2 Corinthians 1).
And what is to be the primary thrust of our mutual encouragement?
“To reach the riches of full assurance of the understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3).
So, dear Church. I want to strongly encourage you, all of you, all of us, to spend this month intentionally encouraging one another. To pursue Christ for all He’s worth! To take practical steps to show love to someone, maybe even the very one you blocked or unfriended. To send that text with a strong, Christ-exalting Bible verse. To point out those evidences of grace. To express gratitude for each other.
Seriously. Pick your first victim (in a good sense). Now encourage. Do something. Say something. To put the comfort and strength and courage of God into his or her heart. Then pick a second victim. And a third. All month long.
Shut out the noise. Turn off the news. Turn off your phones for a few hours each day. Log off all the sites that clamor for your attention. That scurry to be the first to give you some new bit of information.
Go sit quietly with your Bible. Read a Psalm. Ask God to burden you with someone, a brother or sister in your church family that may need your encouragement. If this sounds overly-mystical, then just start working your way through your church membership directory! Pray that the Lord would give you a love for the person. To increase your love for him or her. Find a way to connect via encouragement.
Then, encourage. Do something encouraging for him or her! I am not an expert on 1000 ways to encourage others. I am your fellow learner and struggler. But I have found over and over, if I but drown out the noise of life, and turn my heart toward God and His blood-bought people, I will inevitably commit an act of encouragement.
Let’s make this month one of “September Silence.”
Silence all the clanging gongs of talking heads. Muffle the noisy cymbals of our culture and our crazy post-modern, robotic existence. Get with God. Listen to His voice revealed in His Word.
And from that place of silence and stillness before your Creator-Redeemer, encourage someone else so that you might be knit together in love. Imagine the difference this might make in this church family! A month filled with no harsh voices, no retweets, no lofty opinions, no angry debates, no fear-mongering, no latest-greatest data dumps, no nothing.
Except Word-driven, Christ-exalting, Faith-Fueled Encouragement.
O, what a powerful, promising month this might be!
Will you join me? In September Silence?