By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
Well, actually, before I finish that sentence, let me backtrack a bit and give you a little background information for clarity. Often, I hear people complain that Christians need to speak up more about the moral decline surrounding us. I would not be surprised if you have also heard someone complain about what they feel is an appalling silence coming from the Christian Community as God’s laws are ignored, disobeyed and even attacked by many in mainstream society as well as by some who claim to be Christians. I hear the complaint all the time: “Why don’t Christians speak up?!” Truth is, I believe we should dial that back a little because I believe that some are in fact speaking out. There are national Christian organizations that advocate for Christian values and several of those are quite effective. We should support them. Of course, the comment is valid. But again, I would caution, the issue isn’t really that absolutely no Christians are speaking out. The issue perhaps is that more Christians should speak out against moral decline in the nation and in the world and more believers should teach godly values in the home.
Now I will finish that thought in the headline. What occurred to me was this. Have you noticed that in the Bible whenever Jesus entered someone’s life and displayed his power, the impact was awesome and their life was changed forever? Sometimes he would heal the poor or the sick and lame like the sick woman in Luke 8:43-48; or heal the servants of the rich and powerful, as he did for the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). Other times he would change a life simply through stimulating, enlightening conversation like the interesting talk he had with the woman at the well (John 4:6-29). But in all these cases and others, those who allowed Jesus to touch them, heal them or influence them, were changed and for the better. In fact, he performed miracles. He healed the blind. He brought the dead back to life (Luke 8:49-56). He even took a criminal to heaven who in the last moments of his life, acknowledged that Jesus was who he said he was (Luke chapter 23:39-43). Naturally, often, these people could not keep these amazing, miraculous acts to themselves and in many cases, they told everyone they knew what Jesus had done for them. You could not shut them up. And why not? Wouldn’t you want to spread the news if you had been brought back from the dead? Here’s the point. When Jesus impacts your life personally, you will not keep it to yourself. Heaven help anyone who gets stuck in an elevator with you, because you are going to wear their ears out testifying about what your lord has done.
What I am also saying is this: when Jesus has truly impacted your life, not only will you speak about him, but you will also speak up for him. You will not be silent as people disrespect his holy name. Love for him will compel you to speak. You will also say or do something when you see people going down the wrong path. Love for them will compel you to speak. You will want to help them as your lord has helped you and as he has also called you to do in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:219-20. This is when he said, “teach them to do the things I commanded you.” In other words, you will want the entire world to be saved because Christ’s love will have impacted you and because you will have experienced firsthand that Jesus can heal and free the captives. And this old world of ours is full of captives.
When we are silent, it’s often because we are unwisely trying to please the world, not God. Didn’t the Bible warn us that we cannot be friends with the world and serve God (James 4:4)? We are worried about what others will say if we show our faith or talk about Jesus. Maybe we are intimidated and afraid of what might happen if we spoke words from the Bible that are considered politically incorrect. Let’s face it. The Bible opposes many popular trends because they are sins. Scripture calls sin what it is. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned that getting bogged down in the cares of the world can drown out our faith (Matthew 13:3-23). We can become so concerned and focused on this world and being materially successful, popular, comfortable and happy in it, that we can forget that every single one of us are here for a limited time, but will live in eternity for well, an eternity. Isn’t that where our true focus should be?
Most importantly, I believe what is also happening when we refuse to speak up, is that our silence is revealing that we have some type of relationship problem with God. We may say we are Christians, but the reality is, we have not yet experienced the power of Jesus on a level that compels us to let go of our need to please the world and obey and follow him. Those people Jesus healed or counselled did not have this problem after encountering him in an impactful way. They had a genuine conversion experience that tipped them in Jesus’ direction. They were never the same (Romans 12:1-2). Because they chose Christ over the world, their hearts were transformed and so even their conversation changed. I see that today in many people who God has freed from some devastating illness, addiction or other problem. They speak about Christ and they speak up for Christ. They are not ashamed. Jesus himself reminded us that if we are ashamed of him he would be ashamed of us (Luke 9:26).
Jesus once said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me (Matthew 15:8)”. In some ways, our trials, difficult as they can be, can help us to resolve this problem of having a lukewarmth attitude towards God. Bam! When we are brought down to our knees by a devastating situation, we are humbled. On our knees, we find ourselves crying out in sincere prayer for relief and help and are put in a position where we are compelled to seek and accept God’s help and guidance. When we see his awesome response, we develop gratitude and that gratitude makes us appreciate what we have in Jesus: comfort and help in time of need. After being rescued from what ails us, what has enslaved us, or what causes us unbearable suffering, how can we remain silent? We can’t.
“Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” -Mark 7:36