A young woman I’m mentoring was struggling. Several of her family members are policemen, but she said she also “really cares about and is angry and hurting for…” She hesitated with sadness and confusion, “I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say…” Black people? African Americans?”
I empathized, understood, and could relate. As with so many things right now,
I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say, either.
The church is in a precarious position. We will, like everyone, be criticized for what we say or fail to say, do or fail to do. But the difference for those of us who love and follow Jesus is we don’t have a choice. If we’re going to heed the Great Commission to make disciples, and live and teach Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, and eternal life to the ends of the earth,
We must speak and we must act.
However, as my young friend lamented, what does that look like? Here’s a few things the Lord’s been showing me.
- Pray and Perform. Christians have been accused, sometimes legitimately, of praying but never doing. Although prayer is powerful and sometimes the only thing we can do, it usually manifests a response. As I was praying for the police recently, the Lord lovingly challenged me about what I could do to help. When the young black man we’ve mentored the past seven years needed serious and ongoing help last month, the Lord reminded of me of the lifetime commitment I made to him. How can Christians act right now? Ask the Lord what to do, then be prepared to respond to His loving invitation.
- Converse with Confident Contriteness. When friends have shared strong opinions about masks, riots, and politics, I’ve been trying to listen with humility. When the Lord occasionally challenges me to respectfully submit contradicting viewpoints, He emboldens me to do so. But, He also reminds me that ensuring that I’m heard, understood, or right, isn’t humble or Christlike.
- Speak Sparingly. Although Christians are given the privilege of sharing Christ’s love and forgiveness, in a climate with so many words and opinions, God’s been reminding me to be smart and sparse with mine. Since serious prayer takes time, by default, practicing spending more time face down than on Facebook will help us speak more sparingly.
- Act Abundantly. As the Lord’s prompted me to post less and pray more, He’s also given me countless opportunities to act. The Spirit provoking me to see the young man we mentor weekly, collect books for the inner-city ministry I’m part of, solicit donations for the MPD, and more has left me feeling fragmented, busy, and inefficient. But actually doing the things God invites us to isn’t usually neat, simple, or convenient.
How do Christians speak and act in a hostile, critical, no-win climate? Practically, politely, and passionately, in Jesus’ name. Trusting that the One whose opinion of us is true and matters most, loves and delights in us,
No matter what we say or do.