The Silence of the Lambs

I am shocked, saddened and ashamed that so many who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ refuse to speak out on the things that matter. The sheeple under the steeple have a lot to answer for. So few will speak of their Saviour, will proclaim the good news of the Gospel, or dare to say anything about their faith for fear of alienating or offending people.

And very few believers will speak out on the great moral issues of the day, such as the mass slaughter of the unborn, or the concentrated attack on marriage and family. Why are these believers so silent? Why do they refuse to speak out when it is imperative that we do so?

In my reading this morning I again went through the story of Esther. Of course God providentially raised her up “for such a time as this” (4:14) to make a real impact for God’s people. Indeed, the Jews would have been wiped out had it not been for her and her willingness to speak out at crucial periods.

In ch. 2 we read about a plot to kill King Xerxes. Esther’s cousin Mordecai overheard this and told Esther to inform the king. She did, and the conspirators were quickly dealt with. But then a plot by Haman to kill all the Jews was uncovered, and God again providently used this Jewish pair to save his people. Let me offer here verse 4:14 which I just mentioned:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” So throughout this short book we see the importance of God’s people speaking out and not remaining silent.

Courageous Esther was willing to speak out regardless of the risks and opposition. Oh that we would have more Esthers in our ranks today, instead of this constant silence of the lambs. God will not hold us guiltless over our shameful and cowardly silence.

And perhaps much of this silence has to do with the tragic reality that many Christians really have no biblical worldview; they have no clue as to what their faith is all about. I have met far too many believers who have been Christians all or most of their life, yet are at a loss to explain basic Christian doctrine and beliefs.

They have at best an elementary and juvenile understanding of just what exactly their faith is all about. They are hard pressed to know why Islam is not compatible with Christianity, why the New Age Movement is at odds with orthodox Christian teachings, or why a cult like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not true Christians.

A Lack of Love

But coupled with this unnecessary ignorance of biblical truth is another major problem which plagues today’s church: far too many Christians have simply bought into the secular notions of tolerance, and the world’s sentimental and superficial understandings of love.

Ironically, these silent sheeple will often offer the glib excuse that they are trying to be “loving”. But regrettably these folks do not seem to know what real love is. Biblical love is always about willing the highest good for the other person.

It is never about remaining silent concerning the eternal destiny of others for fear of being offensive or intolerant. And real love never winks at evil or pretends injustice is not taking place. Real love involves standing against that which is wrong. Consider Romans 12:9: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”.

A hatred of evil is a vital and essential component of love. Not to hate evil means you are not really being loving. So a refusal to speak out, either in presenting the gospel, or speaking into the crucial ethical issues of our day, is in fact a sure sign that you do not really love as you ought to love.

A very helpful article along these lines was penned last year by Brandon Smith and is worth quoting in part. “When defining love, we must be extremely careful not to confuse it with affirmation. I love my wife whether she commits adultery or not, and I would forgive and reconcile with her if that were to ever happen (God forbid), but I would not condone nor endorse her to do it again. Christ’s death on the cross would cover that sin, but he would also command repentance and I rightly would expect the same. The beauty of the gospel is not that we get to sin freely, but that we are free to sin no more. We have so individualized everything in our culture that ‘what works for me is best for me’ has firmly seeped into much of today’s Christian thought. Repentance and dying to self flip that script entirely.”

Speaking about the woman caught in adultery, he continues, “[Jesus] then says, ‘Go and sin no more.’ See that? Love is not just the forgiveness of sins, but also the pointing toward something better. When Christians, exercising real humility and gentleness, tell a homosexual or alcoholic or adulterer or gossip queen that what they are doing is a sin, they are exercising the love of Christ. It is not loving to leave people in their sin or simply offer hollow acquittal. Jesus pardons sin and points us in the right direction.

“In reflecting on the aforementioned theological averment that promotes a choose-your-own-lifestyle therapy, it is grievous that the gospel is weakened to such a nebulous ideal. What’s more, this kind of thought is being broadcasted as the true teachings of Jesus. Jesus becomes nothing more than a naïve mother who accepts all of her children’s flaws. This flies in the face of the cross, where God in the flesh died the most gruesome form of execution ever created to gain victory over sin. He hung there because sin is that hideous and offensive. Paul lists a very particular set of sins in 1 Cor. 6:7-10 that range from the greedy to the homosexual and in verse 11 says, ‘that’s what some of you were, but you were sanctified and justified in Christ.’ In this transferred vindication, we walk away from those things and into the newness of life.

“The cross indicts every one of us but there is hope on the other side of an empty tomb. We cannot trust our own hearts. We cannot think of our own preferences. We cannot be defined by those things which God clearly warns against. We must be washed in the blood, sent out of the grave and into the world. There can be no reconciliation where sin is not only accepted but endorsed. It pains me to see people so blinded by their own fragmented hearts, but I can pray with joy and hope knowing that no one is out of the reach of God’s saving hand.”

If we truly love God and neighbour, we will take the time to know what our faith actually teaches, and then we will speak out. We will not remain silent. We will proclaim the whole counsel of God, and we will bravely speak into the vital moral issues of the day.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew full well these truths, and he paid for it with his life: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

[1260 words]

18 Replies to “The Silence of the Lambs”

  1. Silence Of The Lambs
    Wandering the hillsides of complacency,
    Grazing in apathetic fields
    Drinking from still waters of indifference
    So far from the shepards will
    He cries as He hears
    The silence of the lambs
    ( the silence of the lambs )
    Heaven’s eyes look on in tears
    At the lack of concern for man
    The created fail to fulfill
    The Creator’s perfect plan
    And He cries as He hears
    The silence of the lambs
    Wanting His flock to be obedient
    Wishing they’d beckon to His call
    The Shepard longs to guide their pathway
    But they don’t follow Him at all
    He cries as He hears
    The silence of the lambs
    ( the silence of the lambs )
    Heaven’s eyes look on in tears
    At the lack of concern for man
    The created fail to fulfill
    The Creator’s perfect plan
    And He cries as hears
    The silence of the lambs
    Yes, He cries as He hears
    The silence
    Copyright ©1994 Joyce McCollough Music/BMI and Willow Branch Publishing/BMI.
    Words by Harry and Joyce McCollough

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  2. Hi Bill,
    Thank you for your flow of powerful and timely posts, particularly some of your recent ones.
    Your message today, “The silence of the lambs” (May 4), ought to be compulsory reading for all who call themselves Christians, as should some of your other posts of the last few days.
    Your post, “The sleaze merchants are at it again” (May 1), shows that the enemies of Christianity aim at nothing less than the corruption of public morals, particularly children’s morals. Whether we like it or not, these people are at war with us and our families. How many Christians are conscious of this fact?
    “Truth-telling in the culture wars” (May 1), with its description of Paris police being instructed to use tear-gas against pro-marriage demonstrators (infants and the elderly included) shows us that our enemies are increasingly prepared to wield state-backed physical coercion to injure, intimidate and silence Christians.
    You have given us a much-needed wake-up call, Bill, but fortunately you haven’t left us without hope.
    If anyone feels helpless and downcast at our plight, they should read your two posts of May 2, “Responding to the Word” and “On warriors, mighty men and wall-builders”.
    Thank you for taking the trouble to give us the dire diagnosis our generation needs, but also for pointing the way forward.
    May God bless and prosper your ministry.
    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  3. The situation for Christians is dire indeed, and the heavy hand of the law is in full force in employment. I am a civil servant and currently facing disciplinary action and I’m told I’m likely to lose. Why? Because I recently found out that a man I work with is a practising homosexual who thought it appropriate to share this information with everyone and push that he wants to “marry” his partner. I simply told him that his lifestyle choice is sinful, and that he can turn things around through faith in Christ (conveniently, he’s also an atheist). He got aggressively angry with me, telling me that his “relationship” of twenty years is as valid as my marriage. I thought no more about it until I learned he had filed a grievance against me and I now face disciplinary action. What about my rights as a Christian to make a stand against depravity and sin? I have explained that my actions were compassionate in trying to save him from getting Aids followed by an eternity in hell – but apparently I have to keep my faith to myself in the workplace though he is allowed to be open about his lifestyle and expect it to go unchallenged. So much for fairness. Anti-Christian bigotry is alive and well.
    John Nicholls

  4. Persecution is real. We need to support people like John Nicholls. The tool of the gaystapo is to take offence at everything and use the courts to intimidate everyone into silence. Yet we must continue to bear witness. Some YouTube posting get thousands of hits, use the comment facility to make insightful Christian comment; present the biblical world view, gossip the gospel, challenge the secular culture, contend for the faith.

    Des Morris

  5. Bonhoeffer’s call to that authentic “costly grace” Christ spoke of in the Gospels is needed now just as it was under the dark shadow of Hitler’s ascendancy in the post-Weimar Republic Germany of 1937.

    God’s holy apostle, Paul writes of people being counted as “sheep for the slaughter” in the end of Romans chapter 8. These same people he describes as “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”! It seems we live in a time when the blandishments of Eros count for more to many than does the love of Christ.

    John Wigg

  6. John Nicholls – You hold your head up high I too have been reprimanded last month by way of a letter, my first. 3 and you’re out. The complaint against me was, I’m starting to make people feel uncomfortable with my religious convictions, so please could I tone it down. My boss is a JW who spends a lot on getting drunk and her fav book is 50 shades. The complaints came from 2 SDA’s and 1 believer who doesn’t think it necessary to go to church.
    Daniel Kempton

  7. It is increasingly difficult to maintain a distinction between good and evil in the minds of people, because a public effort is made to smudge these distinctions and to add to the dilemma, if a distinction between good and evil is admitted, the question is conveniently asked “evil according to whom?”, to which no answer is given, as God has long disappeared from the collective consciousness. In fact, to be “floored”, rather than being the shameful admission of an appalling situation that needs a remedy, it is now worn as a badge of honour among those who pride themselves on their honesty and of “being real”. No help in this is needed nor wanted nor a desire to be free from these floors is encouraged.
    What a sad and sorry world that has lost the horizon of eternity.
    God’s richest blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  8. Bill, you have provided another prophetically insightful assessment of what is happening in our Christian culture. My observation is that one of the most serious issues among evangelical churches is their failure to take seriously one of the strong emphases of Eph. 4:11-16. What’s the purpose of the ministry gifts to the church? “To equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ”. In my almost 50 years as a Christian in such churches, I have only met one church that took seriously the ministry of equipping the saints for ministry. We’ll continue to be an impotent bunch if the church doesn’t equip us for ministry. That’s one of the church’s primary responsibilities.
    Spencer Gear, Brisbane

  9. I have lived a lot of my life as a “sheeple” – compromised – saying I love Jesus – being a hearer of the Word only. Now I am a disciple of Jesus – the Word of God.
    I used to be a half baked, lukewarm person calling myself a Christian.
    Thank God – I am now a disciple – I am regularly spurred on to keep abiding / living in the Word; to read the Word in context – not cherry pick. I am encouraged to go out on streets & PREACH the full Gospel; HEAL the sick in the name of JESUS; Set the captives Free – by speaking & preaching the TRUTH = JESUS.
    I am ready in season & out of season to give an answer to the “gainsayers”!!!
    When devilish doctrine is spoken I am now equipped to give an answer – Praise Jesus!
    IF Christians started truly abiding in the Word, they wouldn’t shipwreck their faith! They wouldn’t conform to the pattern of the world, but would be transformed by the renewing of their minds with & in the Truth.

    Barb Hoc

  10. Seems like you’re right on brother. People want a god THEY can command. Broad is the way that leads to destruction and narrow is the gate to eternal life. I’ve never seen that so clearly than I am today.

    Many want to quote pieces of the bible and the one about Ester is classic “for such a time as this” but not the beginning “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

    Juda Myers, US

  11. There are people who are speaking out about these things in South Australia you have a group of Christians from Street Church who have been defending marriage, the rights of the unborn and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. What has become of these Christians they have been arrested, imprisoned and yet they challenged the system and are now permitted to preach the gospel and stand for righteousness. Sadly, many churches in SA don’t like proclaiming the true gospel and would rather a wish washy love gospel without repentance and the truth about hell. And therefore, ridicule this Church for doing what we who profess to be Christians are called to do.
    Robyn Grace

  12. I feel for those who need to speak truth in their work situations, but I feel embarrassed for Churches who decline to speak out even in their own building. Great article Bill, I`d love to put it in all church newsletters or at least send it to the elders of all churches. Again, pleeease notify me whenever you`re in Sydney giving a talk.
    Johannes Archer

  13. As usual -spot on! You truly have a GIFT, Bill !
    Blessings upon you and yours.

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