Understanding the Important Difference Between Noise and Sound (Part 3 of 9)
This week I have read a few articles from leaders that I hold in high esteem. They are calling the church to pay attention to the importance of the coming elections. As I read, trying to take in the words from these men of God, who have a perspective that I do not have, I was struck by clarity of the way that they are seeing things.
While there is a cacophony of noise coming from different places, what I heard from these particular leaders had a clear sound. Before I write what I believe that God is speaking to my heart, I want to point out the importance of distinguishing between noise and a clear sound, and then make a connection to my last article, Responsible Sons.
God made us to respond to clarity. In Donald Miller’s StoryBrand workshop, he illustrates this by highlighting that if you played a few minutes worth of random noises for someone, it will most likely be difficult for them to recall what they heard a week later. On the other hand, if you played sounds that were organized into a song, the chance are much higher that they would recognize that same tune and maybe even hum along.
Noise adds to chaos, but a clear sound resonates. Noise leaves us confused, but a clear sounds invites a response. As I have been praying and seeking the face of God, asking what pleases Him as it relates to what is happening in our culture, I have been drawn to the truth that God loves a clear sound. This has illuminated places in my own life where I recognize noise.
Honestly, one of the most painful things in my life is when people that I love tell me that I haven’t been clear in communication. The world doesn't need any more confusion, it needs a contrast to the noise. I want to be clear because I want to live a life that invites a response.
That is why I appreciated the articles written by Dutch Sheets and Mahesh Chavda, (I will further discuss these blogs in my next article.) While I do not necessarily agree with all of their conclusions, I appreciate their heart to express, with a confident but humble heart, what they believe about the elections. As I read their articles, I was called to prayer and informed of the priorities that they see as most significant.
For me, these articles were a clear sound in a sea of noise. Of course, there are many other voices speaking into the body at this time, on many of the same topics. But the impact I see from what they are communicating, and maybe more importantly, how they are communicating, is dissonance instead of resonance. These ‘other voices’ represent different perspectives and come from people of all sorts of influence.
Some of these voices are respected by millions as leaders in the body of Christ. Some are leading local churches and feel a responsibility to let their flock know how to feel. Others are impassioned individuals who are flocking to Facebook to get their message out. The problem is, when all of these voices are speaking at once, it has resulted in a chaotic noise that is hard to respond to.
When we are trying to communicate something important in the midst of a noisy room, we tend to raise our voices and add to the noise.
My heart has been grieved as it seems that people I love and care about have entered into what seems like a really bad game of PING-PONG. Words are being used and attitudes are being expressed that sound nothing like the One that we follow. These hostile arguments highlight the cracks in the way the church deals with cultural crisis.
While this particular article is focused on how the church is engaging around the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, we could find this type of unfruitful back and forth happening on a variety of cultural issues. From how we should deal with inconsistencies in the way that different ethnic groups are treated; to what God has to say about sexuality and on a host of other topics; the noise is great, but I submit that there has not been much of a clear sound.
Because it pleases God to delegate authority on the earth to those made in His image, it is important for us in our lives to release a clear sound instead of adding to the noise. In my last article, Responsible Sons, I wrote about how when the church remains silent on the issues that culture is wrestling with, we leave the world to be led by the blind, the deaf and the dumb.
We have a responsibility, as sons and daughters of the most high King, to reflect the heart of our Father who is in heaven, where He does what pleases Him. We have been taught by our Savior to pray for what He wants to be done to come to earth as it is in heaven. We cannot remain passively silent. (That would make us negligent.) But we cannot continue to add to the noise. (That would make us complicit in the chaos.) We must lean in to the heart of the One we love to know what pleases Him.
SEEING THE SOUND
He has put a new song in my mouth — Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3)
If we are going to learn to release a clear sound, it might be helpful for us to understand how this truth plays out in scripture. Psalm 40:3 was one of the first places that I recognized that sound was more than my ears could handle alone. David writes that God had deposited a song into him that people could see. It was a clear sound that caused both a reaction (the fear of the Lord) and a response (turning to the trust in Him) from those who encountered it.
Obviously, not every “new song” carries this kind of impact, but a clear sound does carry this kind of potential. There is something embedded in a clear sound that can change the atmosphere and create an invitation for something different to take place. We see this truth working in the story of creation when the Holy Spirit is hovering over the face of the deep. There was a cavernous void that was dark and empty until a clear sound was released. Let there be LIGHT. Darkness was shattered on that first day, and it has yet to recover.
This truth replays itself over and over throughout scripture. From God responding to the sound that had come to the heavens from the lives of Sodom and Gomorrah to the sound of the offerings of Cornelius that had risen like a prayer into the heavens- our lives release a sound that God (and others) responds to.
One of my favorite scriptures that speaks of this clear sound is Revelation 1:12 where John turns to see the voice that spoke with Him. Many scholars believe that it had been seventy years since Jesus had ascended into heaven, but John writes that he heard the voice of One that he recognized, One that he loved. His response was to reposition himself to see the One that he heard.
It is my firm conviction that because there is something that pleases God in every situation, that there is an accompanying sound that releases His pleasure on the earth.
Let us seek the Lord with all of our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding, trusting that He will reveal Himself to us in a way that draws our lives into a clear sound. May the sound of His voice bring about a holy fear of Him that results in a turning in our hearts to see Him for who He is.
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Brad and his wife, Adriane, have spent over two decades pastoring churches in the United States with a focus on reaching the “un-churched”. In 2011, they moved to Grove City, PA with their daughter Abigail to pioneer Antioch Overflow Experiment (AOX), a community of simple churches with a mission to “disciple, equip, and release sons and daughters of the King to transform every sphere of society for the glory of God.” Follow him on social media @bradmckoy to stay connected to him and his family.