Monday, March 23, 2015

Freedom of Speech and The Right to Remain Silent

Acts 19:32-33
The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 

Crowds do not create credibility.
This scene in Ephesus is all too common in the world today. Especially with the internet, social media, blogs, talk radio and such everyone can find a soap box on which to stand and opine. Here, my voice is thrown in with billions of other clamoring with them for a chance to be heard. Such was the situation in Ephesus the day the idol makers allied themselves with Paul's Jewish enemies and tried to stop the preaching of the Gospel. 

You can read the story in Acts 19, its short enough. It is simple enough. This phrase, "...Most of the people did not even know why they were there..." Gets my attention. It reminds me of the recent protests we have seen in Ferguson Missouri. It reminds me of people spouting their opinions on talk radio. It reminds me, that despite following the news of our time, I, like most of us, have very little actual knowledge of events. We are all caught in a crowd of one person shouting one thing and another person shouting another.

It is easy to be stirred up in a crowd, it is easy to speak out on an issue, it is easy to have an opinion. None of that means you know what you are talking about. Crowds do not create credibility. Although, we all have an innate herd mentality. Following the crowd can be a huge mistake. Today, like this day in Ephesus during the first century, I have come to realize: most people do not know why they are here, why they are shouting, or what they are talking about. This happens even among - gasp - Christians. 

Yes, we do have freedom of speech; but, before we speak, we ought to exercise our right to remain silent. As James advised we should quick to listen and slow to speak.

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