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« Why Love Has To Be More Than A Feeling | Main | Watch Your Language! »

The Church that Would Not Shut Up

confidential.jpg “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20

Forgive me for using such crude language. I really do know better, but I’m trying to make a point here. Besides that, given the downgrading of public discourse these days, “shut up” is certainly one of the milder forms of expression you hear. The recent book by Marvin Kitman, The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O’Reilly, got me started on this. O’Reilly, the in-your-face, sometimes belligerent, always provocative radio and TV talk show host has made a name for himself by refusing to ignore the outrageous happenings in contemporary culture. I disagree with much of O’Reilly’s commentary, but his confrontational manner and his unwillingness to back down from the heavy hitters in politics, law enforcement, Hollywood and the mainstream media has to be admired. To the chagrin (or delight) of many, he simply will not shut up.

The church in the book of Acts had huge reasons to shut up. They were hauled in before the most powerful group of leaders in the land and forbidden to speak. The Council of all the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, including Annas the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander other relatives of the High Priest exerted collective pressure on them to cease and desist. (Acts 4:5-7). The widely recognized authority of the Council to carry out their threats usually throttled their enemies. These disciples of Jesus, however, were a different breed. They had gained the favor of the crowd, they were full of the Holy Ghost, and they had an experience that insulated them against intimidation. Still, the Council told them “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” The early church proceeded to go directly back to the streets and pick up where they left off. Not only did they not shut up, the threat became a rallying cry among believers to intensify their efforts. They regrouped, solidified and became a formidable force in their world.

The twenty-first century brings new threats to the church to back off from our mission to “Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” All of the old, discredited heresies of the past still dog the church, now enabled by new technologies and methods that make the spiritually invasive tactics of Satan far more seductive and effective than ever. “Shut up” assaults the ears of the church today from every quarter. Politics, education, pagan religions, entertainment and culture—all these and more clamor for the New Testament church to retreat from our dogmatism and passively blend in with religion in general. Of course, our detractors themselves demand complete freedom to promulgate their false beliefs. Marsha West, February 2, 2007 ,, says: “Some readers are thinking, “Christians who try to evangelize unbelievers are religious fanatics. I don’t want to hear about Jesus!” That’s your choice. But remember that Christianity is not the only religion trying to win souls.

She says, “Serious environmentalists are trying to save planet Earth [by] exposing people to their pantheistic worldview and they’re guilty of preaching about it. Radical environmentalists do not come with truth. They come with lies and half-truths. The Secular Humanists push their godless religion on society. Hollywood , the liberal media, public schools and universities are preaching their message. They believe the only way to save society from religious moralists and anyone else who doesn’t agree with them is to shut down all dialogue. Liberal Christians spread the Gospel of Confusion. Half of [them] feel that they don’t have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others, in spite of the fact that Jesus commanded His followers to proselytize.”

What we desperately need today are churches that will not cave into the pressure from humanists, radical environmentalists, liberal Christians or the political correctness crowd to abandon evangelism. Despite the shrill threats to shut up or be shut down, we must preach the unpopular, practice the unappreciated and believe the inflammatory. One experience with the power of the Holy Ghost is enough to inoculate us against rivals to the gospel.

Even more insidious than the external enemies, however, are terminal attitudes rising from within. Too many saints think they have to shut up because…“I’m too busy; I have too many jobs already; I don’t know how; it’s not my personality; it embarrasses me to talk about my faith; my workplace doesn’t allow talk about religion; people hate Jesus freaks; I don’t have any opportunities; I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me; nobody wants to hear it anymore; we have too much competition; let people alone because they are okay in their own churches and beliefs.” All are excuses for the fearful and spiritual impotent.

Aggressive evangelism doesn’t have to turn us into the Bill O’Reilly’s of the Apostolics. Speaking the truth in love remains in force. But the oneness of God, baptism in Jesus’ name, the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues, righteous and godly living need a clarion voice. Let’s take the gag off, shake the confusion off and quit biting our tongue. Will you be the church that won’t shut up?

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