We have a dilemma.
On one hand, we know it’s wrong to be silent when seeing injustice. For example, if you were to see a child dragged on the floor by her hair, crying, and bleeding, it would be wrong to be silent, even if at some point you had previously decried the evils of child abuse. God has written a law on our heart (Romans 2:15) that tells us to protect children. So, when injustice enters the windows of our eyes and bounces off God’s law in our hearts, our mouth is supposed to say, “That is wrong.” When we see injustices such as a man being murdered, people being mistreated, property being looted, officers being attacked, and justice being delayed, it is right to speak and wrong to be silent. The voice from our mouth should echo the law in our heart.
On the other hand, we know if we speak, people will scrutinize our words. Our culture is divided into camps. Every camp is outraged, but sadly, not about the same things. Every camp adopts a set of words to fly as the banner for their cause. Therefore, if you muster up enough mercy and courage to speak, you will find each camp measuring your words on the basis of their banner, scolding or condemning any perceived insensitivity or silence. As a result, many people are left frozen between not wanting to be silent and not saying the wrong thing.
An Added Burden
We are self-publicists. We carefully manage the flow of information to build an image that gains respect and approval. Social media didn’t create this tendency; it gave it a viral platform. Our posts become like carefully chosen press releases tacked to a bulletin board to provide a window into our soul. We post as if we imagine our friends, or jury, checking our page to see if we are properly moved or outraged. You can sense the pressure in the following posts: “No words. Just want to do my part.” “I repent. I don’t know of what, but I repent.” “I have nothing to say, but I can’t be silent.” We can all appreciate the longing to engage for good, but as Christians who have been entrusted with the Word of God, we can add even more!
Our Christian Calling
As Paul instructed Christians in Ephesus to apply the gospel, he said, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). When corrupt words line up like horses at the gate of our lips, we must keep the gate closed. But this is not the extent of our calling. We have been called to represent Jesus, who consistently used His words to build people up according to their needs by speaking grace and truth that fit the occasion. This is our calling.
Our Christian Foundation
When observed injustice leads us to speak, and we don’t know what to say, we have the Bible as a foundation on which to stand. We would be wise to hold back most of our words (James 1:19; Proverbs 10:19) until we have had time to filter our thoughts through God’s Word. When it comes to the issues of our day—racism, justice, peace—let’s consider just some truths from God’s Word.
God created every human in His image and wrapped us in a color of skin for His pleasure and glory (Genesis 1:27).
Our sin against God leads us to judge, alienate, and mistreat people made in God’s image (Titus 3:3).
Jesus broke down the dividing wall of hostility on the cross that separated us from God and each other (Ephesians 2:16).
Jesus has formed a diverse family from all peoples who believe in Him (Ephesians 2:19).
Jesus’ followers are to be known by their love, especially to those in need (Matthew 25:40).
Jesus’ followers are to share His burden of justice and righteousness for the oppressed (Amos 5:21-24).
Heaven will be pleasantly diverse, perfectly unified, and fiercely focused on Jesus (Revelation 7:9-10).
When we don’t know what to say, we can lean on these truths. Don’t feel like you must echo a cultural narrative to be empathetic. Let’s fill the room with grace and truth. We can speak gently about God’s love for people, His pleasure in diversity, the grief of sin that causes racism, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the only solution to sin, the beauty of love, the sorrows of oppression, and the hope of heaven. As we do, our words will add truth and grace to life.