Most of us have never seen a time like the one in which we’re now living. In just a matter of hours, I saw two startling contrasts of behavior, and a Scripture verse came to life in front of me.
In the morning, I went to vote early at my local municipal building and stood in line with a few dozen other folks. As with any other election, there were signs and supporters from all parties, and those representatives had sample ballots to hand out to anyone who wanted them. When the representative from one party politely approached the lady in front of me to ask if she would like a ballot, she barked back at him with a rude response as though he had asked for her first-born child. It was an absurd overreaction. The man backed away silently from her. She appeared to be in her early 50s, and he was her elder by at least 20 years. I couldn’t help but wonder if there’s no value left in acting with class or in giving elders at least a little respect. Unfortunately, loud expressions of hate have become more socially acceptable than silence and dignity.
Later in the afternoon, I drove my oldest son to his orthodontist appointment, and on the way there, we passed a man standing on a busy street holding a Bible over his head. He stood silently with a sign that simply read, “Do you know Jesus?” He was still there 90 minutes later on our way home. My son was amazed, and truthfully, so was I. People drove quickly past him, and I wasn’t sure where someone would pull over to stop and talk to him even if they wanted to. But there he continued to stand in silence, witnessing of the God he knew. He left an impression on us, and I assume on others as well.
In Exodus 14:14, the Bible says, “The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still” (NIV). But what I was especially struck with, is that in some translations, the last part is “you shall hold your peace” (NKJV), or “you have only to be silent” (ESV). I look around at the world, and I think of Jesus standing in front of Pilate, head down and silent as Pilate urges Him to make His own defense. Jesus had already answered Pilate’s question about who God is. He knew there was nothing else to say; revealing His identity was enough. Likewise, the man whom I saw at the polls remained silent rather than sparking more conflict with a defiant response. The other man on the street, literally “held” his peace by holding the Bible above his head.
Sometimes I see God’s people fearful to speak. And there is great wisdom in knowing the time and place to speak, of course. But there is a time to simply hold our peace and point to God. He’s the only One who can fight this battle.