Too Many Voices, Just A Bunch Of Noise
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2
I was visiting my grandma Wollenburg in Nebraska one time when she had all 13 of her children home. In addition, there were several of her daughters and sons in-laws, many grandchildren and great grandchildren. As you can imagine, things got a bit noisy with all the discussions and frivolity.
At one point my grandmother took her hearing aids out. One of my aunts cried out loud, “Momma, why are you taking your hearing aids out?”
She replied, “Too many voices, just a bunch of noise.”
One night I left AT&T Park after a Giants game with my family. It was like a carnival. Of course, there were several vendors selling San Francisco Giants paraphernalia, food and other items. Several people were handing out samples of granola bars, sunscreen and so on.
As I looked around, I remembered my grandmother’s words, “Too many voices, just a bunch of noise.”
But then what caught my attention was a surreal contrast between two extremes of this makeshift carnival.
On one hand was a soapbox preacher preaching into a portable microphone while his group of followers handed out tracts. The preacher actually said, “Just because you shout, ‘Oh, God!’ does not mean you’re praying!” He continued to shout into the microphone all the reasons God will judge the world and send most people to hell unless they repent. The sooner the better.
On the other hand, were some young women handing out business cards to some strip club. I noticed how uncomfortable these girls looked as the preacher continued to preach his hell fire and brimstone condemnations.
I remember commenting to my wife and family, “I wonder if that kind of message will do anything to help these young girls?”
Paul writes in Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…”
A few verse later he describes that transformation. He talks of love. He asks people not to think of themselves more highly than they ought. He encourages people not to return evil for evil. Paul says, “Do good to those who persecute you.”
I often think of that night after the game. All those voices. All that noise. I wonder what is heard clearer, the threat of judgement or the sharing of God’s love in Jesus Christ?
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California