I've been thinking recently about some do's and don'ts for Christians who want to make their voices heard in the public square. Here's my preliminary list of ideas:
1. Start with a local focus. It's always more effective for a resident of Asheville to speak out on Asheville issues than for someone from Savannah to offer an opinion. But if you live in Asheville and pay taxes in Asheville, you have every right to speak out on those local issues that concern you.
2. Pick your spots. You don't have to join every controversy that comes down the pike. In fact, you will probably be labeled as a reactionary crank if you complain every time you open your mouth. You will find yourself far more effective if you limit the number of causes you get involved in.
3. If you are too angry, don't do anything. Many Christians have actually hurt their own cause by speaking without thinking. If you feel extremely upset about something that happened at your child's school, talk to a friend and then count to ten before you call the principal. Nothing is gained by losing your temper to those in authority.
4. Be graciously persistent. Very few things will change the first time you speak out. Often people will ignore your comments because they hope it will make you go away. Remember the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18. She was rewarded because she kept coming back. Justice will often not be done until we have stated our case five or six times.
5. Don't demonize your enemies. Don't treat people unkindly simply because they disagree with you on a moral issue. Yelling, screaming, intimidating, and attributing bad motives to others generally won't convince them of the error of their ways.
6. Be bold in God. As an American citizen, you have a right to speak out; as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you have an obligation to openly represent God's truth in this society. Think of yourself as a duly appointed ambassador from above. You are sent to your neighborhood, your street, your school, and your place of work to represent Jesus Christ in everything you say and do. When you speak up for the unborn, you speak on behalf of the Creator of the universe. So be bold! You have the credentials of heaven behind you.
7. Don't forget the main thing. People need Jesus more than anything else. The battles we win in the political arena may not matter very much 10,000 years from now. But the one thing that will matter forever is the eternal destiny of the people we meet every day. Don't forget that above everything else, people need the Lord. He's the solution to the real problems of the world.
8. Pray, pray, pray. Nothing of eternal consequence
happens without prayer. Pray for
those with whom you strongly disagree. Pray to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all things. If we are to maintain the spirit
of tenacious winsome courage I wrote about, we must pray before we speak out, while we speak out, and after we speak out.