The Church of the Clanging Cymbal (or why Christians should shut up for Christmas)

Noisemakers are in the news this holiday season.

We live in an age when everyone wants to make some noise.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” seems to have become our national motto and so we have become a nation of squeakers, ready to protest, voice our concerns, write our letters, assert our beliefs, call our congressman and speak up for ourselves at the slightest perceived offense.

Today, a man pretending to speak for God plans to protest at the funeral for Elizabeth Edwards and announce to her grieving children that their mother is in hell for doubting her faith when her sixteen-year- old son was killed.

Of one thing I am certain, one day Fred Phelps will fall into the hands of the Almighty God of the Universe and He will judge Him. I trust the Lord to handle Fred Phelps.

But he is just an extreme example, a cautionary caricature of what many of us are in danger of becoming. We’ve learned to speak up for ourselves and that can be a good thing but not divorced from love.

I Corinthians 13:1 says this: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

We live in a nation of resounding gongs and we’re in danger of becoming a church of clanging cymbals.

James writes these words: “ My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

Do you get that? HUMAN ANGER does NOT produce the righteousness that God desires!

The world is rampant with actions and attitudes that offend a holy God but when Jesus walked among us, He didn’t come on like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. He entered in as a baby and grew from childhood into manhood. He laughed, He loved, He ate with us and celebrated at our weddings.

He set aside His throne. We can’t even set aside our differences.

He laid down His life. We can’t lay down our anger.

Christians don’t have to walk around with scowls on our faces and rulers in our hands disapproving of every offense against God. That isn’t the life to which we were called.

Ezekiel 18:23 even says this “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” And 2 Peter 3:9 says this: “”The Lord . . . is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

He is perfect in His judgment because He is perfect in His love. We are still learning this love thing.

We’re called to be quick to listen. Slow to speak. Slow to become angry.

The God we serve says that, indeed, He is slow to anger. (Exodus 34:5-7)

The business of judging the eternal destiny of another human being is far above our pay grade, loved ones. Even when others are clearly perpetrating evil and flaunting the creator of the universe, we should speak the truth to them, of course, but then we need to stand back and let the One True God handle the issue of heaven or hell.

I once read that the reason judgment won’t happen until the end of the age is because our lives continue to have an effect, for good or for evil, even after we have left the earth. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Hitler’s writing continues to inspire Neo-Nazis so his sins continue to grow. Betsie ten Boom, a Christian who died in a Nazi concentration camp where she was sent for harboring Jews, continues to inspire others to acts of bravery and faith so her good works continue to grow.

This explains why we don’t see God acting as quickly as we would like, sometimes, to silence those whose voices truly do offend Him.

I think that God’s Son arrived in the night because it was the only time humans quieted down enough to hear God speak. Even the angelic choirs might be drowned out these days by our constant clanging.

This is a difficult issue because we do need to speak the truth, to clearly explain God’s message, to confront others with the nature of sin and to point out the path that leads to destruction.

But I truly believe that love must be the only launch key for the missile of our message.

Or we are simply resounding gongs and clanging cymbals.

Perhaps it’s time to have a silent Christmas season.

What would happen if every Christian decided to honor the coming of our Lord by being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for the next fourteen days?

Maybe our silence would speak to people.

Maybe God would speak during our silence.

Maybe we would hear God better.

Maybe love would have a chance to inform our words and on Christmas day, instead of sounding like a choir of clanging cymbals we would issue forth a concert of Christmas bells that would send the good news ringing across the land.

Let’s pack away anger for a season, shall we? Let’s decorate with love, with listening hearts, with tongues that speak the truth but with patience, kindness and self-control.

Ever wonder why the silent night was so holy? Bet it had something to do with our silence.

Maybe in honor of the season, it’s time for us to shut up a spell.

Jesus was not afraid to come to us with love and vulnerability. He can give us the power to do the same. I speak these words from a heart of love, loved ones. But I’m going to shut up now.

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    The Conversation

  1. WhiteStone says:

    I’m saying a very quiet “Amen”.

  2. Oh, oh, oh, oh my!
    This is the best thing I have read in a long time. Just beautiful.

  3. Mike W. says:

    Thank you, Lori.

    ~ M.

  4. Carmen says:

    You have such a way with words!