Wise As Serpents and Innocent As Doves?

We live in an age where mass media and social media can be used  –  you might say are being used as weaponry against many of the principles we, as Christians see as foundational and representative of our worldview and way of life. There is a new weapon in the secular arsenal called “cancel – culture,” which attempts to remove support for people in response to what is perceived to be “objectionable” behavior or opinions. This is a viral andvirulent form of “shaming” and with it often comes economic impact.  

It’s a frustrating and very challenging time where it can be hard to hold in check the emotions of anxiety, fear, anger, helplessness and even depression. (I keep adding to that list of emotions) We sense that in some ways the rope attached to the anchor on which the ideals of which our country was founded has been severed and we as a people are adrift in unchartered waters. 

That’s a fair assessment. These are unchartered waters for us . . . but not a surprise to God. He has seen these days coming and knows the outcomes. As Christians, God has not forgotten us anymore than he will neglect the nation of Israel. We must take comfort in the assurance that God is present with his people, his children and that though his protective wings cover us, he does not want to hide us.  

While we see things with limited scope and visibility, God sees everything clearly. We can wonder what our role is as believers in a secular world. In the loudness of the chaos we are experiencing, can a voice of reason be heard? Should we even speak and engage in what very much seems like a culture war?

How do we, and should we “let our light shine before others” – – how do we express our views so that others who question or oppose our perspective and way of life may see our good deeds, our valuable and hopeful perspectives and be drawn towards God? Yes, we should be heard. But how we respond can add fuel to the fire instead of the calm and reason that are needed. 

I believe we need to have a voice, and I believe we are instructed through God’s word what our conduct should look like. I am reminded of a quote by Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish statesman and philosopher who said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As good and accurate this statement is, from here on I want to apply truth from scripture to amplify my point. I trust God’s word will give you both comfort and guidance.

As much as we see faces and actions and hear words from people, neither the designer nor participant in mayhem wears an “earth-suit.”  We are reminded in Ephesians that ultimately “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

God asks through the psalmist, “Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?”  He says through Peter, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Many people characterize Christians as “angry people, even foolish people.” Probably most of us have been exposed to some things that even give rise to such a point of view, whether it be an unpleasant street preacher, Christians emphatically protesting against a cause or some other situation. We are told in Ephesians “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the son go down on your anger.“ We can be angry about sin. God is angry about sin. But we need to measure our response such that ”a soft answer turns away wrath; rather than a harsh word stirring up anger” as we are cautioned in Proverbs.

The Apostle Peter sets the tone for how we are to respond to people, and I think his counsel speaks to the cultural and spiritual divide when he says “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Yes, it’s hard sometimes. Very hard.  

 But God has given us instruction about the manner in which we are to interact with those whose views are not in sync with ours. He doesn’t advocate that we become doormats to be trampled upon, but that we set a tone of gentleness, graciousness and confidence as we hold up views and ideals that may not be publicly popular.  We are told to “let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  If God calls us to respond to adversity in such a manner, I am inclined to believe that He sees it as the best and most productive approach.

We are encouraged to always “be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen.” That’s good advice always, don’t you think? Scripture does not lead us to bury our heads in the sand. Quite the opposite. But in the speaking we do perhaps the most significant words we can offer are to God, through prayer. Asking Him to minister to hearts and penetrate them with his love, grace, wisdom and will. Surely we can partner with Him in that effort. Can’t we? Think About It.

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