Tuesday, July 28, 2015

With A Whisper, We Speak

(by Kerry Patton)
“The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
Matthew 13:10-11
There is no aspect of “the secret society” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we discussed yesterday, the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 were to go into all the world and and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” So, if the Gospel is to be proclaimed to “all the world”, then what do we make of this ‘whispering’ that was effectively going on in the teaching of Jesus through parables?  Why was Jesus lending the secrets of the kingdom of heaven to his disciples, but not to the others who had gathered?

We observe Jesus speaking through the gospel accounts.  We find him shouting…no not AT people, but speaking loudly to the masses, we find him living and loving, conversing normally with individuals – such as the woman at the well, and we find him pulling his disciples aside and communicating with them in almost hushed tones…a whisper…not because what was being shared was scandalous, or secret, but because it was meant just for them…for that moment, that stage in their spiritual growth.  Whispering.

We do this too.  Picture yourself at the city park with a group of friends.  You are having a good time on a warm summer evening and at some point the discussion turns to matters of religion.  Of the five or six persons you have gathered with, one individual has an interest in the discussion that differs from the others, and you sense this.  As the discussion continues, you realize that this individual is at a place where he or she is very open to the Gospel of Christ and is searching for a door into a relationship of faith.  So what do you do?  Accepting Christ can be a very personal thing.  Sins may be confessed, personal matters of faith are addressed, praying the prayer of salvation is a very personal thing; and the best place for this discussion is not in an open forum, but a private discussion.  So, you pull the friend aside and speak to him or her in private.  You effectively whisper. 

Whispering doesn’t stop there either.  If we were to say that evangelism could be viewed as a shouting, and the living of one’s faith to be normal conversation, if you will - discipleship is conducted in the place of whispering.  One proclaims to the many, another to but a few, and the latter an intimate heart conversation with an individual.  Whispering.  Discipleship…that is, you and I in continued association with persons we have led to Jesus, teaching them…leading them to Christian maturity; this is done as a whispering.  We would not address the matters of an individual’s daily struggles, failures, and personal spirituality in an open forum!  These are not matters to deal with openly in a crowded room.  No, we would pull the young disciple aside and speak to him or her privately.  Effectively, a whisper.

And while there may be other forms of whispering to address in this fashion, I will speak to one more: The whispering of prayer concerns.  It has been said that Christians do not gossip…but they do share in love…and sometimes to tragic ends.  It is a fine line that we walk between communicating the needs of the body of Christ, and passing on some juicy morsel of gossip that involves someone we know.  We take the opportunity to shout that which ought to be kept confidential…but we do so out of Christian love and concern. 

This is very dangerous, isn’t it…and destructive.  Jesus knew the hearts of his disciples.  He knew the struggles of Judas, the doubting of Thomas, the temper of John, but we find no public discussions concerning these…even in the relatively private forum of the rest of the disciples.  Jesus knew how to whisper, didn’t he.  He never used one of his disciples struggles to make a point or use as an example.  To those hearts, he whispered by pulling them aside and sharing a secret of the kingdom just to them.  So too must we know the fine art of whispering.


Lord Jesus, we have heard it said in your Word that the tongue is like the rudder of a great ship.  That we could properly control how we speak, and to whom, and when.  Teach us the art of whispering to hearts and lives, as you did.  Give us great discernment on when to pull aside and speak the Father’s truth, and when to hold what we know in quiet confidentiality.  Make us wise, O Lord.  Teach us to whisper.  In your name, and for your sake we pray.  Amen.

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