The myth of neutrality
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." I can remember hearing that quote in a Father's Day sermon many years ago as a young Christian. While it intrigued me and pricked my conscience enough to stand out, it had little effect on my behavior in that moment. However, the Holy Spirit took that planted seed and continued to water and grow it until it eventually began to grow and bear fruit.
As I survey the world around us, and what we see unfolding daily in our culture, I routinely find myself questioning, "How did we get here?" If we have the answer and the truth, why is it so rarely spoken? Do we believe in the sufficiency of Christ?
In Acts chapter 5, the disciples were arrested and charged once again to stop speaking the name of Jesus to the people in the temple, public spaces and marketplaces.
"Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men ... And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Acts 5:28-32)
We mustn't miss the context of Peter's statement that speaking the Gospel is equated with obedience to Christ.
It's astonishing how effectively the enemy has convinced Christians to remain silent and neutral within our own culture over the past 50-60 years. Many have believed that not joining the world in its destructive patterns was enough, and silence has become acceptable to the majority of believers. In doing so, we have become complicit in our circumstances.
At the same time, the world has effectively taken and used the exact methods laid down by Christ in order to communicate its own false gospel and narrative. It has filled our cities, schools and politics with its teaching and doctrines, the very thing the apostles were accused of doing as Christianity was flourishing and people were being saved and added to the church daily. Simultaneously, it has convinced Christians that biblical truth is unacceptable in public spaces and politics.
About 10 years ago, the Lord began to do a critical work in my life. As I was feeding on the Scripture one afternoon, a simple but profound truth entered my mind for the first time that was more than just a passing thought. As I poured over the "red letters" of Christ in the Gospel of Luke and then the narrative of the early church in Acts, I was so captivated that I stopped in the middle of reading and articulated out loud for the first time, "If we, as Christians, believe the Word of God is true ... if we truly believe it, then there is nothing more important that the world needs to hear." It fundamentally transformed the trajectory of my life.
As believers in Christ, we have the message the world needs to hear. Do we truly believe it? In Colossians 2:3, Paul tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Did you catch that? All knowledge and wisdom has, at its source, the person of Christ. He isn't just a source of truth, He is Truth! He embodies it!
In light of this, I want to suggest we must be compelled to obey Christ just as we see this early church in Acts was compelled to obey God and boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel. Peter says, "... we MUST obey God rather than men."
To remain silent or neutral is to openly defy the commandment given by the General of the armies of God. Jesus said, "... even so, I send you."
If there was ever a time where our modern culture needs Christians to boldly speak truth, this is that moment. Jesus tells us "He who does not gather with me scatters."
May the Holy Spirit help us realize silence is not optional if we want to be obedient to Christ and the great commandment given to all disciples of Jesus. Neutrality is a myth.
Aaron Mapes is the lead pastor for First Assembly of God Prineville. He can be reached at 541-447-7254.
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