When we attend a funeral, the cold finality of death is realized as we cast our eyes upon the deceased. Before us we see the earthly remains of one who was once alive and thriving but now lies motionless and silent.
It is the silence that most often represents the absence of one who has passed away. Often you may hear from those who have lost loved ones that it is the sounds of their loved ones that they miss the most. Especially. it the absence of a voice that has been silenced in death that is a constant reminder of someone who has gone.
If the silence of a single voice results in such emptiness, what is the result if an entire church falls silent? That is what has happened in many communities where once a church sounded out as a herald of truth. The result is that the community suffers and loses hope without the word of God that was once provided by the evangelistic efforts of the now silent church.
The sad fact is that many churches that have fallen silent are much like the remains of a deceased person. The members remain but have lost their function. As a result, the entire body is silent and dormant. The comparison ends when we consider that many members of silent churches have lost their function not because of disability or age, but because of indifference.
Just as the silence of a voice is evidence that a person has passed away, the silence of a church is evidence that the church is dying or already dead. A major function of the church from the beginning has been to make sure that the truth is heard! In the first century, the members of the Lord's body "went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:4) The word resounded from all Christians such that "the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." (Acts 19:20) Like the human body, when a church loses its function, it is ready to die.
Especially, it seems that it is the loss of the voices of Christians in communities that represents our absence. In the first century, it was not by means of articles like this one, or by tracts, or by flyers that the gospel of Christ had its greatest growth. This is not to say that these things have no value, for they have tremendous value if they are used properly. However, they lack the demand for attention that a human voice has.
Brethren, it is for each one of us to take upon ourselves as much as possible the responsibility of preaching the word of God. If we do not preach it, then the church falls silent, and the word is not heard. Perhaps worse still, the silence does not remain. Rather it is replaced by those who are speaking things that are contrary to the word of God unchallenged. We must not allow this to happen. Ring the message out!
Stacey E. Durham
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