The Spiritual Art of Shutting Up
Romans has long been my favorite book of the Bible. The depth of the theology, the heights of praise, the practicality of the thing - I love all of it. Our small group is wrapping up a study of Romans, and this past week we covered chapters 12 and 13. I was struck, once again, by the power of Romans 12:15 -
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
My background is the white, evangelical church. We suck at this. In general we totally lack compassion. There are many reasons for this. But the reality is that lack of compassion is a lack of biblical character.
- Over 180,000 Americans have died in this pandemic, yet there has been no national mourning.
- Yet another unarmed black man was shot in the back by police.
- I've recently spoken to several people I know who are no longer Christians.
- I spoke last week with a friend who is no longer in full-time ministry.
And on and on. Yet, where is the weeping?
My wife wrote recently about lamenting. I'm trying to learn about this because, unfortunately, it's largely missing in our churches.*
Not too long ago I texted a friend, just to check in. I asked if he needed anything. He responded that me texting was what he needed. Just someone to check in, to be there.
I've said before: Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is shut up. When people are hurting - and there is so much hurt! - Christ calls us to weep with them. Not talk, not preach, not solve the problems. There may be time for that later. But weep, show compassion, love as Christ did. It's messier, and so much more difficult. But it is what we're called, no, commanded, to do.
* I'm currently reading Prophetic Lament, and it is extraordinarily helpful.