In a world full of violence, hatred, division and controversy, it is difficult to know what to say and when to say it.
And too often as Christians, we freely share our opinions—educated or otherwise—about whatever issues are happening around us. While it is absolutely essential that we address important issues in our societies from a biblical perspective, sharing our opinions on every little thing may not always be the best idea.
In recent weeks we have seen black men killed by police officers. We’ve seen targeted shootings of police officers. We watched in horror as a man killing at least 85 people with a truck Nice, France. The world around us is full of the horrors of our own depravity.
Without an understanding of the Gospel, we can’t process or truly understand why such horrific things happen. And too often we are eager to call ourselves Christians but slow to conform to what that actually means.
As Christians, we should not be like everyone else. We are ambassadors for God. We are His representatives on earth. People will often judge God based on what they see in us and hear from us. Because of that, it isn’t appropriate for us to rant without being thoughtful or considerate of others.
It is also inexcusable for us to ignore the world around us. We have a responsibility to respond to these issues, not with our own personal thoughts or values but with the heart of God and the truth of His Word. Jesus tells us we are salt and light. It’s time we started acting like it, especially when it comes to how we address culture around us.
I’ve often wondered when it is appropriate to speak into these kinds of issues, and when it is not. How do we know?
Politics: Silence is golden.
Living in America gives us the right and freedom to have a public opinion on every political issue out there. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. The problem with politics is they are naturally divisive. If I shared my view on gun control some people would agree, some wouldn’t care, some would avidly disagree. For those who disagree, my opinions/thoughts now hold less weight in their eyes.
We should be very careful about engaging politics that have little or nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.
Abortion is a political issue. It’s also a biblical one. Address it as a biblical one. Racism and injustice are political issues. They are also biblical ones. When there is an overlap, teach the Bible.
If there is no Bible behind it, no Kingdom benefit to discussing it, then the Christian should not risk the mission over a political message that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
A general who wastes troops fighting needless battles won’t have the troops they need for the important ones. When in doubt, stay out.
Causes: Be selective.
You can only champion so many things before your effective rifle shot turns into a shallow shotgun blast. The Gospel has the power to penetrate deep into important issues. We should never prioritize or elevate any cause over Christ. That’s not to say our causes aren’t important, but that there is nothing in this world more important than Jesus.
When something happens in society that allows us to share the heart, character and truth of God, that is a great opportunity for us to speak. When people start searching for light in the darkness it’s time for those of us who have it to start sharing it.
Here are some practical steps to deciding whether or not speaking into an issue is the right thing to do or not:
Does it need to be said? Just because the media picks something up or there is a cultural issue going on doesn’t mean it needs to be discussed. It does not benefit us to discuss everything. Before we speak into an issue, we should be sure the issue merits being spoken into. Is it beneficial? Will it help break down apathy? Heal? Give a sense of peace?
Before speaking into something ask yourself if what you have to say has value. Is there something to be said that will help with Biblical understanding, relationship development, healing or growth?
What does the Bible say? One of the most important times to speak into something is when there are hot topics in culture that relate to clear Biblical truths. Sometimes the world around us serves us opportunities for timely, relevant messages on a silver platter. That’s definitely a time to take them. Christians should make sure before they address any issue that their opinion is Biblically accurate, gracious, understanding and expresses the love of God.
Does it honor God? David had two opportunities to kill Saul and become king. David refused both times. He didn’t kill Saul because it wasn’t his place and it wouldn’t honor God to do so. Sometimes what looks like the right thing to do, what seems reasonable and justified in our minds is not the Godly thing to do. Our primary concern is honoring and obeying God. Don’t skip this step. Spend some time in prayer to figure out if God is convicting you to speak or to remain silent. Let Him guide you.
Consider your bias. Are you speaking into this because it’s a touchy subject for you personally? Is it your own agenda? We should be careful not to dive too deep into the pool of our own passion projects. Not that we can’t have them, but we aren’t speaking for ourselves, we are speaking for God.
Ask yourself why? Why do you want to speak into it or to remain silent? Check your motivation. It’s easy to be silent out of laziness or fear. It’s easy to speak out of anger or pride. The “why” matters.
Get Godly counsel. You don’t have to make the decision alone. Before ranting on Facebook or telling the world how you feel about something, maybe you mull it over with some Godly friends or your pastor. Iron only sharpens iron through contact.
There are times you will regret your silence. There are times you will mourn your speaking. It’s OK to make mistakes. What’s not OK is to fail to consider the importance of what we do and how our voice impacts how others see Jesus. What we say matters. As we live for Jesus we should also speak His heart and His truth to the world around us.
Tyler Edwards is a pastor, author, and husband. He currently works as the Discipleship Pastor of Carolina Forest Community Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is passionate about introducing people to and helping them grow in the Gospel. He is the author of Zombie Church: breathing life back into the body of Christ. You can find more of his work on Facebook or you can follow him on Twitter @tedwardsccc.