The other day, while making a particularly important phone call, my three-year-old son, Caleb, asked me if he could climb up on my shoulders. I was in mid-sentence with the person on the telephone, so I did not answer him. He asked me once more, and again, I did not answer him. In this instance, it was not resonating with Caleb that his dad and I had given him instruction on his behavior when we had to take a phone call. We have told him more than once not to be loud or ask us anything while we are on the phone. I am sure many parents can relate to this. On this day, I had been on hold for what seemed like forever. I had finally gotten through to a live person to handle some time-sensitive business. The very moment I began speaking to the person on the other line is the exact moment Caleb began doing exactly what I had already told him not to do. He then looked up me with a smile on his face, speaking aloud, okay I can do it. At that moment, I realized that my toddler took my silence or lack of response as permission to do something that I did not agree with.
As I have pondered instances like this over the past couple of weeks, I realized an important and valuable lesson: there is a real and tangible danger in silence. When witnessing social injustices, deliberate oppression, blatant racism, and the list can go on, silence can be perceived as approval and/or agreement. In my opinion, many can be in such an individualistic mindset, that if a situation does not directly affect them, whether they agree or not, silence is the choice they make. Others may be fearful or just despise confrontation, therefore, the choice of silence is made.
I am reminded when Jesus confronted wrongdoers, in a very stern and some may say aggressive way, when they were buying and selling in the temple. Matthew 21:12-13 states: Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!” From what I know and believe to be true, Jesus loves all people, yet he hates sin. His actions and words were against the wrong that was being done. He witnessed people turning God’s house into something that it was not meant to be, so he spoke out.
I have begun to think of how my sphere of influence through the years might have been affected if I was more vocal about my convictions about injustice, hate, etc. As a follower of Christ, I have a deep longing to see others experience His love in their situations, communities, and even globally.
Through my personal experience with my two sons, I have become their greatest advocate. If anyone does or says something that is not in their best interest, it is my call to protect and defend them. Though it does take a daily shifting in thought, my neighbor should receive the same courtesy. The way I defend my neighbor versus my sons will look different, but it is still love in action. I may offer prayer and/or material assistance, while using my voice in my sphere of influence to help bring about a change from wrong to right.
Currently, many are suffering due to no fault of their own. There are mental health challenges because of the global pandemic, there is social unrest due to racially motivated crimes, and economic and financial challenges are reaching far and wide, even in the great United States of America.
My questions are: What would it look like if those of us who say we are Christ followers become the solution the world is looking for?; What if we spoke out about injustice, while still loving those bound by hatred?; What if we used our word to eloquently speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the hope of seeing true conversion in the hearts of people?; What if we stopped placing the responsibility of solutions on others, and bear the burden ourselves?
Keep in mind, these are just my thoughts. I really believe that God is all powerful. I really believe that He hears our prayers. I really believe that I have been endued with power by the Holy Spirit. I really believe that LOVE never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).
I wrote this blog just to provoke some thought. I encourage you to look through the lens of love and act accordingly. Let us have the hard conversations, with the resolve of love being the goal. We have been silent long enough. Let us love, let us heal, and let us provoke change.