“They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As He rode, the people gave Him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is He who comes, the king in God’s Name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places! Some Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But He said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
Luke 19:35-40 MSG
“When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”
Esther 4:12-14 MSG
“The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander—everybody who was anybody was there. They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: “Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?” With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of His Name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this One.” They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”
Acts 4:5-12, 18-20 MSG
There’s a time to be silent and there’s a time to speak up. There’s a time to stand down and a time to stand up. Speaking up may come at a cost, praising the Name of Jesus may cost us our lives. But the question David asked his brother when Goliath was posturing is still relevant today: “Isn’t there a cause?” People of the Living God! There is a cause. The Church of Jesus Christ was labeled nonessential during the Covid pandemic and I think we have not only accepted it we are wearing it. We have left the fight to a few who stood up to the point of being fined thousands of dollars and even imprisonments to defend their right to assemble according to Hebrews 10:25. But where were the rest of us? What was our response? Cowering behind our masks and forced isolation. While some rejected the order to refrain from singing praises to Jesus, others allowed the rocks of government overreach to silence and shutter our places of assembly.
I have highlighted differing accounts of positions we’re supposed to take when the option of being silent or speaking out presents itself in the face of threats. Jesus made it very clear as to where our allegiance lies when the leaders of the synagogue tried to trap Him about taxes.
“That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap Him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with Me? Why are you trying to trap Me? Do you have a coin? Let Me see it.” They handed Him a silver piece. “This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?” They said, “Caesar.” “Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is His.”
Matthew 22:15-21 MSG
The Church of Jesus Christ is not under the jurisdiction of the government, Bishops or the Pope. God is the head of His Church. If we choose to remain silent whenever there’s government or elected church officials overruling the written Word, we must stand up and speak up. This isn’t a revolt or insurrection, this is our right as citizens of the Kingdom. Notice carefully what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t say don’t pay your taxes, or break the law in any way. He said give to the government what belongs to the government and to God what is His. Any claim the government makes on you, you test by the infinitely higher claim God has on you. In other words, render to the government anything that you cannot render for the Lord’s sake. 1 Peter 2:13-14. Pastor Piper says it best:
Peter and Jesus are calling for Christians to have the mindset of an alien and an owner at the same time. “Live as free people, not using your freedom as a cloak of evil, but being servants of God.” We are God’s servants, not the servants of any government. We are free from all governments and human institutions, because we belong to the owner of the universe and share in that inheritance (“fellow heirs with Christ”). We are aliens in the U.S.; we serve the owner of the world.”
We have been silent for too long. We are intimidated by what people, even our family members, have to say. But the only thing that really matters is what our Commander in Chief says. Jesus told the Jewish leaders asking Him to quiet His followers that if the people refrained from praising Him, the very rocks wouldn’t be able to refrain from giving Him praise. There’s no political correctness when it’s time to praise Jesus. There is no mandating worship. Still there was silence. While the world broke all the rules of limiting crowd spreading of Covid through protests, The Church stayed home in pajamas sipping coffee watching zoom church. To add insult to injury, even when some buildings were opened, the Church stayed home, waiting for their savior- the beloved vaccine. Then after their savior, the delta variant still finds the fully vaccinated and masked Church sitting home waiting on buildings opened by the government yet shuttered by higher ups masking as the voice of God. The Caesars of the church have refused to open God's houses.
Where are the dissenting voices calling out this hypocrisy? In Esther chapter four when the Jews were slated for anhilitation there was only one person who had the ability to reverse that. But she was stuck on protocol. She didn’t want to break the rules out of fear of losing her life. But her uncle made it very clear that the cause outweighed consequences. The time to speak up was now. She could take the opportunity or remain silent, the choice was hers. If she chose political correctness over speaking up, God would send help from another way, but she wouldn’t benefit . She had a change of heart.
“Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”Esther 4:15-16 MSG
Peter, John, Paul and the other apostles had a choice to make during their day. They could’ve lived quiet godly lives. They could have gone to church every sabbath and gone home without causing a stir. But they were the clarion voices of their generation. Standing up and speaking out brought them much suffering. But here we are today because they chose to push against political correctness in and outside of the church. Peter and John asked the Jewish council this question. “Who should we obey? You or God!?” Isn’t it time we begin asking the same question of our government and church leaders when they violate the Word of God?
If we as Christians remain silent in the face of government and church leaders overreaching there’s no going back, no do overs. Fear of persecution cannot be our excuse. We all have to use the opportunities the Holy Spirit provides us to be the change. We read the accounts in the Bible and admire the boldness and tenacity of the apostles, but this is our time to do the same. We cannot be silent any more!
Christians are being slaughtered every day, while we remain silent. We don’t even hear our pastors talking about that. Most Christians aren’t even aware that there’s such a thing as the persecuted church. Out of sight out of mind. It’s not happening to us so it doesn’t affect us. Wrong! Read Mordecai’s warning to Esther again. Standing up for what we believe may come at a cost but we do not have a choice of sitting back and doing nothing.
God has made us and bought us for Himself(1 Corinthians 6:20). We are slaves of no man and no government (1 Corinthians 7:22-23). Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We are aliens and exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11). We are not “at home” here, but await the Lord from heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). I’ll close with two quotes of Pastor Piper.
“In this freedom from the world and from Caesar God sends us for a season back into the “foreign” structures and institutions of society to bear witness that they are not ultimate, but God is. We are to live out the alien ideas of another Kingdom in the midst of our earthly homeland. There will always be tension as we live in these two kingdoms. But God sends us in, not out. Acts 5:17-42
Beware of rendering too much to Caesar the way Pilate did (John 19:12). And when you render to Caesar do it only “for the Lord’s sake.” If you cannot, do not. May the Lord give us grace and wisdom to be the salt and light of God in an alien land.” J. Piper
You have the right to NOT remain silent!
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
November 18, 2021