By Dr. Mike Murphy
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
For years we have watched as the vice of this nation continues to grow. What we once thought as unthinkable, we know view as acceptable. We began to see the face of our vice enough that it became viewed as inevitable. We then grew to identify with it, taking sympathy with the effect it has on our life each day. Then the day came we accepted our vice, taking its’ cause and use as our very own.
What is the vice of this nation I speak of? Sin! We have watched for years as sin has become a common part of our society and culture. We have watched as this nation has endured, pity, and now embraces sin. We have even seen our nation go one step further, we now openly encourage it.
Many have watched in horror as this has happened in front of our eyes. The Church has sat in shock as God’s Word has been replaced in our society by man’s desires. But as we have watched, we have seen the Church’s vice also take form. What is this vice of the Church I speak of? Silence! Nothingness is our greatest vice.
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” , Ezekiel 3:18. The Church today has forgotten the words that the prophet Ezekiel spoke. We have found it easier to sit in silence than to speak from our convictions. We refuse to realize that God sees our silence as great an offense as the act committed by the wicked man himself.
When we find ourselves silent in the face of sin, we become no better than the sin itself.
And when we find ourselves silent in the face of evil, we take the power out of the Lord’s hands to reach and change the heart of others through us. Our silence borders on blasphemy, we deny the Holy Spirit the opportunity to speak through us to those that need to hear God’s Word the most. James tells us, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”(James 4:17). James shows us that good is much more than the absence of doing wrong. When our actions or our voice do not find us on the side of good, we are sinning.
When we look into the face of evil and we do nothing, we are falling short of the glory of God. If our words are not heard, or our actions are not seen, we cannot find ourselves magnifying the very name and person of God Himself. We not only silence our voice, we silence God’s Word. Satan takes pleasure not only when we deny God’s Word, but when we choose to ignore and not publicly speak God’s Word. Our apathy, our choosing to not publicly proclaim the values found in God’s Word have gotten us to where we are today. And we need to realize, history shows us exactly where our silence today, will lead us tomorrow.
Few today know the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. During the early 1930’s, Bonhoeffer served as a pastor and lecturer in Germany. As Hitler came to power in early 1933, Bonhoeffer began to see the dangers that would come to the nation of Germany, and to its’ people. Many, professing to be Christians in Germany, sat quietly as the Nazi’s put forth teaching that went against the Word of God, and said nothing as they began to persecute God’s Chosen People. When most lost their voice, Bonhoeffer gained his. Along with a group of fellow pastors and theologians, Bonhoeffer started the Confessing Church, a movement to counter the false teaching of Nazism.
During this time, Bonhoeffer served as a teacher at an underground seminary, because he was banned to speak publicly. Soon the underground seminary was discovered and destroyed, and many within the Confessing Church movement became silent, no longer willing to speak out against the growing threat of the Nazis. It was at this time that Bonhoeffer chose to speak louder. He became a double agent. He signed up with the German Secret Service, travelling to church conferences throughout Europe, supposedly collecting information for the Nazi government. But instead he was helping Jews escape the horrors that the Nazis had brought their way. On an afternoon in April, 1943, Bonhoeffer was discovered, and taken to Tegel prison. Bonhoeffer served two years in prison. He was eventually transferred to Buchenwald, and then to the extermination camp at Flossenburg. On April 9, 1945, one month before Germany surrendered to the Allied forces, Bonhoeffer was hung as a traitor to Germany.
Years later, a camp doctor who had been present at Bonhoeffer’s hanging, described the events he saw that day. “Through the half-open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued in a few seconds. In the almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” Even at the moment of his death, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not silent, he brought glory to God.
Bonhoeffer’s words should ring true with us today. “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” The Church needs to have those words etched into our minds. We see far too many churches and Christians doing nothing. They stand idle, nothing but spectators, as the events of this nation unfold around us. If good prevails, they cheer, joining in the celebration, having done nothing to aid in the victory. If evil prevails, they are the first to complain in the quiet of their homes, although their own inaction brought about the defeat. They choose to ignore the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” When good men do nothing, then nothing good gets done.
Before it is too late, it is time the church once again found its’ voice. We must no longer just shake our head in disgust from the pews at the direction this nation is moving. We must be willing to take a stand, to put action into the Word that God has given us. We must clear our throats, and begin to speak clearly God’s Word to this nation.
Simon & Garfunkel once sang, “Fools,” said I, ‘You do not know. Silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you.’ But my words like silent raindrops fell. And echoed in the wells of silence.” Our silence has become our cancer. But we have a choice, and must ask ourselves this question. Will we now stand up and fight this cancer with every fiber of our being, our will we sit quietly and watch as this cancer consumes us? We need to know going in, this will not be an easy fight. The odds are greatly stacking against us each day. Each day we are silent the enemy grows stronger. And this could be a fight that will cost us all dearly, with the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoing in our minds. But this nation, and God’s Word is worth fighting for. I, for one, am ready to fight! I will not go quietly!
Praying the Lord always finds each of you with a strong voice!