Monday, October 22, 2012

The Great Selah

"A word is worth a thousand pictures."

Go back and read that, because you might have skimmed over it and read it wrong. But it's true, right? Words have the ability to forever sentence us to shame, motivate millions of people, start world wars, bring restoration, and offer comfort - to name a few. Words have the ability to build up and break down. To push someone forward into success or to rip them back into failure. To begin and end.

So, it only makes sense that we put a lot of importance on what people say, right?

We read tabloids to discover the daily dirt. We scrutinize presidential candidates' every word to find error. We read the letters of loved ones over and over. 

But what about silence?

Isn't silence also to be considered? After all, verbiage itself counts much less against the giant of nonverbal communication. Because when I listen to someone, or watch them respond to what I say, I pay attention to how they're telling me what they're saying, not necessarily the words themselves. And, in the realm of nonverbal communication, silence speaks volumes. In a forest of twisted words and incongruent feedback, silence is a quietly stark contrast to a flood of speech.

The Jews called this a "selah." A selah could be understood as something that indicated to the reader that they should pause in their reading and use the silence to think about what was just said - to say, "Stop, and think about that." Kind of like I did right at the beginning of this post.

When we talk about Jesus, we usually discuss what He said. As my boy Matt Chandler says, "Yes, and Amen!" Praise God for His Word and all that He told us. John 1 talks about Jesus as the embodiment of the Word, bringing life to everyone. So I'm not discounting His Word in any way. I praise Him for it.

But what about His silence?

In Matthew 27, Jesus is being interrogated by Pilate, the governor of the region. He is being asked questions that could determine whether or not Jesus is going to be put to death. Jesus' response? "But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed."

Stone cold silence.

Jesus had spent the past three years speaking in abundance and proclaiming His own deity. He spoke clearly and understandably to thousands upon thousands of people. In other words? He had already said what he needed to say. He didn't need to say anything else, because He had said enough to let His words stand on their own. Despite the fact that Jesus was being questioned by the man who had the power (which was given to him by the Man he was questioning) to send Him to death, the Christ had so much confidence in His already-spoken words, that He chose silence.

And if I can reach a little bit further, I'd call this The Great Selah: to say that the God of the Universe was using His moment with Pilate to tell the world, "Stop, and think about that." My encouragement today? Stop, and think about that. Think about the life and teachings of Christ. Think about what His words mean in our world. Use the silence to think upon His glory, love, and grace.



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