Wednesday, February 28, 2007

T-shirt Wisdom

I went with Bill and Diane to a karaoke bar in San Clemente a couple of weeks ago. A guy had a T-shirt that proclaimed: "Your silence will not protect you!"

That's a thought. Of course it does in a way. How about when we ought to be silent? But the T-shirt is clearly talking about when we ought to speak, and instead hope by silence to stay out of trouble.

There, too, as the Dixie Chicks remind us, "It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself." If you don't show yourself, you won't be so lonely, as every coward has already figured out for himself. So how can this statement be true?

In Proverbs 31 we read, "Open your mouth for the dumb, for the judgment of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and judge the afflicted and needy." Along the same line, we read in Proverbs 24:11-12, "Deliver those who are being led away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold back! If you say, 'See, we did not know this,' does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?"

So then if we protect ourselves by being silent when the helpless are ripped off, God says He will be silent when we are ripped off, giving us according to our doing. We've protected ourselves, but we have forfeited God's protection.

It is just what Jesus said, "Everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, I will deny him before my Father who is in heaven."

What else did Jesus say: "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, the least, you did it to me." And again, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

So then, the German women who watched indifferently as Amira Hass's mother was led away did that to Jesus. The Poles who watched indifferently while the Germans starved the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto did that to Jesus. Those who watch with approval as the Israelis do exactly the same thing to the people of Gaza right now, with the enthusiastic support of the United States government, are doing that to Jesus. Like those in Matthew 25:31-46, they think that's not so because they're inferior, and that's why Jesus says what you do to the least - whoever they are in your judgment - you're doing it to him.

Specifically, when you deny them, you're denying Jesus, and he will deny you, just as if when you confess them he will confess you.

"Your silence will not protect you!" because your silence causes God to be silent when YOU fall into trouble. Your silence does not protect you because it strips you of God's protection. You want to protect yourself? Protect others, as you want to be protected, so that God can protect you.

Well, then, if you're feeling denied and betrayed lately, here's a debugging tip. Find out every way that you're denying and betraying others, and find out how to quit doing that. That repentance will protect you for real, even if the world finds ways to make it feel otherwise.

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