Wayne and Brad revisit the Spiral of Silence Podcast through comments and emails received about it. This time the focus is on our response to this phenomenon that makes us care more about what others think of us than we do living truly. How do we help create a safe place for ourselves and others to be their authentic selves? Only God's love can bring us freedom from this false sense of belonging and when God teaches us how to live this way, we will want to extend the same freedom to others. They finish with a quote from George McDonald about how it it is more important for us to live obediently to the living Jesus rather than theorize about him. How awesome our fellowship with others would be if each of us learned to live this way and free others to do so as well.
George MacDonald Quote
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I actually served with an elder who we had spoken to about having outside conversations with other members of the elder body instead of airing things with all the elders. When I did something that he didn’t agree with, he vented in an e-mail to someone in the congregation, but was “kind” enough to cc: me on the e-mail so he would’t be accused of talking behind anyone’s back. Talk about passive-aggressive.
I also think you’re right about the fear in the other person. The person I mentioned above had as their linchpin doctrine, entire sanctification, and yet he rarely exhibited it himself. I suspected that he feared he was losing his grip of control on a church that was for many years one way. As someone like myself came along who clearly did not follow the status quo, I think he found it threatening, but it took me a while after leaving the church to realize this. Although I was made to feel worthless, I later realized that truth intimidates a lot of people and they sometimes react in not very gracious ways. This helped me to identify with Christ who met the ultimate rejection and for what–speaking the truth.
After struggling with so many people who believe what they want in the face of facts and reality, I’ve become much more like the man you quoted–I’m not interested in changing others’ opinions either. It’s far too much work and effort expended needlessly. What we need to ask ourselves is, do we trust God with the same amount of energy that we expend on trying to change people? If not, then maybe we need to try God. When we do, we’ll find Him speaking to us and leading us as to what to say and to do (and what NOT to say and do) vs. us taking on other people as our projects.
TRULY I say, this is one of my FAVORITE discussions I have heard from you two thus far!!
“Your example is a hundred times more powerful than your words…”.
“What happens where people freely, authenticly, openly, choose to be part of something? It’s such a million times better than anybody you’ve drug into it by your own conniving/scheming…”.
There are so many quotes I could list but the overall theme of “Living Truly” and moreover…embracing others who are living truly among us, sits so very well within my soul.
Father, please bless this message and let it spread like FIRE!
Love you two 🙂
(hug Sarah for me!)
Thanks for the podcast, especially the discussion regarding resolving conflict in relationships and how critical timing can be in many situations and even better was the quote from dear George MacDonald. My life and thinking have been greatly changed from reading his writings. He certainly knew about the experience of living outside of the theologial box when you consider the fact that his father was a minister with strong Calvinistic beliefs. His gentleness and love shine through his writings, and I can’t wait to meet him along with many others who have gone before us but experienced being misunderstood by their peers, not the least of whom is Jesus!
Really want to live true-ly! The journey there is a bit rough at times. Thanks for the encouragement to continue.
Another source of George MacDonald Unspoken sermons without the distracting advertisements can be found on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library ccel.org.
There is also an MP3 version at:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/macdonald/unspoken/mp3 I am grateful for the time that this unknown woman spent reading the entire (challenging) series of sermons. She is not a professional reader but for those who prefer it, it is available as well.
I did a little editing on the posted quote for clarity but the changes were small as you can see.
Thanks Pat for stating something that on the one hand is so obvious and on the other hand is one of the harder things to live out. “What if we were to expend the same amount of energy in trusting the Father that we do in trying to change the opinions or behaviours of other people.” As I am growing in this relationship and He is winning me to a place where that trust will be stronger …that reminder spoke gently and firmly to me! : )
Here are some thought provoking excerpts regarding George McDonald from an article by Thomas Talbot, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon:
“For just as the decision to have children entails an obligation to care and to provide for them, however disobedient they may become, so God‘s decision to create us entailed a freely accepted obligation to meet our true spiritual needs. MacDonald thus exclaimed:
(Away with the thought that God could have been a perfect, an adorable creator, doing anything less than he has done for his children! . . . The idea that God would be God all the same, as glorious as he needed to be, had he not taken upon himself the divine toil of bringing home his wandered children, had he done nothing to seek and save the lost, is false as hell. Lying for God could go no farther. As if the idea of God admitted of his being less than he is, less than perfect, less than all-in all, less than Jesus Christ! less than Love absolute, less than entire unselfishness! . . . It will be answered that we have fallen, and God is thereby freed from any obligation, if any ever were. It is but another lie. No amount of wrongdoing in a child can ever free a parent from the divine necessity of doing all he can to deliver his child.)
So here, once again, we see how MacDonald‘s vision of God‘s all-pervasive love so inflamed his imagination that he found much of the Western theological tradition, insofar as it departs from a consistent expression of it, deeply offensive.
The Mission of Jesus
I said at the outset that MacDonald‘s own religious convictions were far more in accord with Eastern Orthodox theology than they were with mainline Western theology, and nowhere does his departure from the latter emerge more clearly than in his understanding of the atonement. He never wavered—was never even tempted to waver—in his belief in the death and literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. But he rejected as fundamentally wrong-headed the idea that the purpose of the Cross was to pacify God‘s wrath, so that God might be able to forgive us in a way that would otherwise have been impossible. . .
When, as a last resort, God allows a sinner to experience the logical end of separation and self-worship, namely the loneliness and terror of the outer darkness, then the resulting horror will at last shatter any illusion that some good is achievable apart from God; it will finally elicit, therefore, a cry for help of the kind that, however faint, is just what God needs in order to begin and eventually to complete the process of reconciliation.
So yes, love is inexorable, according to MacDonald, and God‘s love will indeed triumph in the end. It will undermine over time every possible motive for disobedience, even if this requires in some cases that a sinner experience the full horror of separation from God, and it will repair all of the harm that we have done to ourselves as well as to others.”
See the entire article here in PDF format:
Tom Talbott’s Site:
You know this. Concept of being in trusted fellowship has become so real to me since I broke the ministry habit. I found one of the reAsons my proposed change to the church didn’t work other than the many others is I was trying to force fellowship upon people who were there out of duty not the relationship of the group. So as I, like a bull in a china shop tryed to impose upon people something that was a foreign concept to them, they had the compounded frustration of not trusting the person beside them.
How do people share their thoughts and feelings in a conversation format when their trustin god is imposed let alone their trust in each other. I find now after a year of rediscovering who I am I’ve only just begun to trust the father. How wrong of me to pass that on to people wo have not grasped even the idea of freedom and real fellowship
Your discussion about responding to someone who is criticizing someone in their absence is a scary one. It’s like watching an episode of The Office, where someone is going to say something awkward and there is no stopping it. I can’t help but feel the awkwardness comes, at it’s root, from personally identifying more with the critic than I want to admit. In a slightly twisted way, gossip is a public confession. Treating it like a confession of someone’s insecurity around a third party is a tough leap when it verbalizes my own insecurity. By stating what I am also feeling, it forces me to reconcile something I may not want to reconcile. The critic has somehow mustered the confidence to state their insecurity, but I may not have even mustered the courage to recognize it. On the surface it might look like a silence but there is likely no silence inside of me. It may be more like a hurricane of emotion that I am concentrating so hard on containing that I have no energy left to express anything.
I wonder if God engineers these awkward situations, sitting in a group listening to someone slander an absentee 3rd party, or worse yet, slander a present 3rd party, to force us to reconcile our own insecurity. Maybe “how do we respond to this situation?” is less about how we react externally and more how we react internally. Maybe it is a rare opportunity to present our own confessions to God. Maybe even externally, responding with an admission that we feel the same about the 3rd party, followed by an open repentance of how wrong we are to agree with the gossiper.
Awkward all around either way. Thanks for making me think deeper than I want to Wayne & Brad, now knock it off. 🙂
Pat, you wrote: “When I did something that he didn’t agree with, he vented in an e-mail to someone in the congregation, but was “kind” enough to cc: me on the e-mail so he wouldn’t be accused of talking behind anyone’s back.”
I have (along with a whole lot of other people) experienced the same treatment. I appreciate that Wayne admitted he had “dissed” someone from the pulpit, something that has happened to a bunch of people as well.
What I am wondering is: What will it take for us to be abused in such a way as to not be hurt by it? Jesus said to expect persecution but I wager that more persecution of believers has come from other believers (misguided as they may have been) than “non-believers”. How can we receive these insults and accusations in a loving manner that would reflect the kind of forgiveness and tolerance that the apostles and early believers demonstrated at their own persecutions?. Is it possible to receive these rejections and respond in humble and loving ways that would turn the accuser more toward their own repentance?
I have in no way achieved this but I do see it on the horizon as a peaceful place of rest that isn’t pushed here and there by unkind accusations, behind my back or to my face.
WOW guys, now that I am actually following the blog, reading everyone’s thoughts and experiences is an amazing. Thank you. Talk about example being more powerful than words!
I loved Pat’s statement: What we need to ask ourselves is, do we trust God with the same amount of energy that we expend on trying to change people? If not, then maybe we need to try God. When we do, we’ll find Him speaking to us and leading us as to what to say and to do (and what NOT to say and do) vs. us taking on other people as our projects.
This is amazing. But lets be honest (at least for me), doesn’t it feel weird living loved, and loving others in a situation where everyone ELSE is focused on themselves, their own pain and trying to convince and change others? This for me is painful. Especially amongst other brothers and sisters who think fellowship is listening every 45 minutes on a Sunday. Those conversations are PAINFUL! Then comes as Alan says, taking those persecutions in a Jesus like manner. Personally I don’t think the pain stops, but Dad’s love in us increases – which makes it possible to love them even though they hurt themselves and us.
Leon (and all), it is always refreshing for me to read through the different perspectives that grow out of these podcasts as well. There was too much in the George MacDonald quote for the podcast but there was one additional part that is vital to me. (the entire quote is in the “Conversations that Matter” comment section).
“More eager after credible theory than after doing the truth, they have speculated from a condition of heart in which it was impossible they should understand. They have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend.”
Western Christianity has altered the meaning of the word “obedience” to make it conditional. Obedience is nothing more than living unconditionally loved and loving others unconditionally. Living under love rather than under law. When we first come to Christ, we seem to take in the entire experience as a role, like a Hollywood actor. It’s not an entirely bad thing though. Simple mimicking of good morality is life ‘sustaining’ but it isn’t life ‘giving’. It is a good first few stepping stones to start by memorizing the lines and work on our delivery. But God didn’t call us to be actors in a play. He called us, to be filled with his different kind of love, an unconditional love so, in time, we wouldn’t be acting a role at all. Rather, we would be as authentic as Jesus himself.
Freely jumping out of the nest that is built in the tree of the law (the knowledge of good and evil) is redemption, even if all the other birds are squawking at us and threatening to never let us return. But flying away gracefully, without recrimination for wrongs suffered, is a better form of discipleship.
I , too, have experienced the annoyance of stepping away from great conversations and thinking of better things I could have said. I HATE IT, and it’s happened to me WAY TOO MUCH. Though I haven’t thought about it much here lately. And it wasn’t til Wayne brought it up during the podcast that I realized it hasn’t happened in quite a while. More particularly, since our my family left the church we were attending, (coincidence? I think not.) something that I had been wanting to do for a while but didn’t feel it was right until my husband was on the same page or at least closer to where I was/am. Though it was through some bad circumstances for others in the congregation it provides a means of escape of us, and for my husband and GOOD enough reason to as well.
Now we don’t have anything, but some good friends. AND IT HAS BEEN WONDERFUL, more than I expected, even though we rarely plan to do things together our friends often up end at our home together. Some times it’s just two, sometimes it all of them! More increasingly there is wonderful conversation about our lives with Jesus, more increasingly I’m finding that these friends , a few quite new in our lives, are on a similar journey, thinking some of the same things….etc. It’s so exciting,..I couldn’t have imagined a year ago, or even six months ago that we’d be in THIS space, it’s more amazing than I ever imagined!!! 🙂
How wonderful to live entirely in Christ and in His Kingdom. We no longer have a care as to what people say about us or what they think of us. It is only Christ’s judgement that matters, and that of our dear beloved heavenly Father. If God be for us who can be against us? Furthermore, He has given us all a little circle of believers with whom to fellowship and a hurting multitude needing some comfort wherewith we have been comforted. Sometimes we are hurting, too.
So I am learning to go to my Saviour and cry on his shoulder and say to Him whose Word is to judge us all in the last days, help me to love these unlovely ones to whom power on Earth is everything and perhaps be able in some small way to help their victims to live free in Christ. Open the eyes of the self-deceived and shine in the Light of Truth. And if a situation comes up where a victim is to be ‘sacrificed’, then if we truly trust our Saviour, we can be true, ask for wisdom and then speak out regardless of the consequences for there is no safer place for believers to be than in the Kingdom of God on Earth working with the Father as He works in us.
The Spiral of Silence is real. Christ can break it: Thy will be done. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
LORD, Help us all to REALLY TRUST RADICALLY and live truly in You, loving one another as You have loved us. Make us wise a serpents and as harmless as doves. And forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us…Thy Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven for that is the uppermost desire of our hearts. Only in His Kingdom and by His Spirit is this possible.
Love the substance the interaction of your dialogue brings forth in my spirit. I don’t always “get it” but I’ve been experiencing more of the Peace Father has already given us in Christ. Sometimes when I’m trying to “get it” I unconsciously resort to thought patterns rooted in my NEED to get it. The good thing is that I am recognizing the ditch (black hole actually) that those thoughts lead to and am able to stop. It is so refreshing to stop the grinding wheel which grinds each seed of my Father’s language into my idea of usable flour and to simply let the river of His Spirit flow through me. I felt guilty about not using the mill I had built by Father’s river but am beginning to enjoy how quiet and lovely and lively it actually is. Some days, His substance becomes clear enough that one more board from that mill gets removed and another glorious ray of light breaks through. My Father’s language is no longer being ground to death by my need to figure out how to administrate His garden. Outwardly the impact that all this has on relationships is boundless. Inwardly I’m experiencing a spiral of silence between me, myself and I being graciously shattered and my Father’s language and even His tone of voice restored. Thank you.