Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: alienation

Silence like a cancer grows

Paul Simon was right. Hidden amidst the noise that permeates our daily lives – the noise of our appliances, the hum of our computers, traffic noise, telephones, sirens, music, celebrations, protests, news – there is a pernicious silence. No one dares talk of the things that are churning in their heart. It’s just not done, no one wants to hear. We face this invisible barrier – the sound of silence.

Thoughts come silently – “you’re not good enough,” “you don’t matter,” you’ll never make it,” “nobody likes you.” They become voices that echo incessantly in waking moments, in dreams. They can’t be escaped, they are tormenting demons. But everyone has their own demons and they don’t want to hear about yours. Silence like a cancer grows.

There is an epidemic of suicide, no one quite understands why.

What is a Christian to do? The old gospel message doesn’t resonate with people of the 21st century. Some say we need to make it more relevant, make ourselves more relevant, make ourselves heard.

Sure, let’s grab our megaphomes and join our voices to the cacaphony out there. Do you think anyone will hear? Do you think anyone wants to hear what Christians have to say?

Nobody is listening. Not even the Christians. That is the problem. Rather than trying to make ourselves heard, could we try to help others make themselves heard?

Let’s open our hearts, our minds, our ears to hear the words that no one else wants to hear. We’ll hear a lot of stuff that might make us cringe and want to stop our ears, but if we listen long enough someone might trust us enough to show where it really hurts.

And if we can bear to listen, that person might even give us permission to open our mouths and tell of the healing balm of Jesus’ blood.

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Do we well?

There is an account in the Old Testament of a time when the Syrian armies laid siege around the city of Samaria until the people of the city were about to perish of starvation.  There were four lepers at the gate of Samaria who were also near death from starvation.  One night they decided to go to the Syrians and plead for mercy.  But God had caused the Syrians to hear the noise of a very great army that night and they had all fled in terror, leaving tents full of food and other good things.

The lepers went from tent to tent, finding food in abundance, plus silver and gold and clothing.  Some of this they carried away and hid, then went back for more.  At this point one said to the others, “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.”

Our society has become debased and demoralized.  We can say that governments have failed us.  We can say that social service agencies have failed us.  We can say that the churches have failed us.  There might be a little truth in all of those statements, but blaming these big organisations is not going to help us.

Let’s look in the mirror.  What have I done to lift the burden someone else is carrying?  Have I had time to listen to someone who was lonely and broken-hearted?  Have I been willing to interrupt my routine to lend a hand to someone else?  Do I have time for lonely old people, the sick, the foolish, the weak?

Technology gives us the illusion of being connected to a huge throng of people, near and far, yet we feel alienated, not really connected to anyone in a meaningful and lasting way.  It feels like our society is edging ever closer to the dystopian vision of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.  But can human beings survive in such a state of alienation?  The evidence in the news appears to be saying no.

Our daily newspaper carries a story today of a woman who says the church saved her life.  She has gone from a life of prostitution and drugs, with her daughters in foster care, to being gainfully employed, providing a home for her daughters and doing her part to give back to others.  Someone reached out and gave her the hope that God was real and that He cared for her.  Someone helped her heal from her hurts, unlearn all the bad habits and attitudes and learn better ones.

All we who have experienced the healing that God gives have the potential to share it with others.  Are we sitting back and rejoicing in our own salvation and helping fund mission programs so someone else can help those who are hurting?  Do we well?

We will find greater fulfilment and happiness in serving others, rather thant in being served.  Why don’t we start today, with those we can reach out and touch?  In our own homes, first of all.

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