Occasionally in life we come across people who seem to have a real knack for saying the wrong thing at the most inopportune time. It puts me in mind of the saying that the stupidity of your action is directly proportional to the number of people watching you.
In the last several weeks statements made by a quite prominent leader within the Christian community have made the headlines. More significantly those comments have had repercussions in other countries and around the world, not the least of which is the expulsion of Christian mission groups from an entire nation. I really don’t want to give the fellow any more publicity than he has already garnered nor do I want to enhance his credibility by raising his number of Google “hits”.
Whether we like it or not, in many places around the world Christianity and the United States are viewed as synonymous and whoever speaks with a loud voice from the Christian camp within the U.S. is perceived as a spokesman for Christianity in general. If a Christian is going to speak his mind in public and in a way that the mass media will broadcast, he must be certain that he has the mind of Christ and speaks accordingly. If a Christian is going to speak his mind on a website or blog that is accessible to the public, he must be certain that he has the mind of Christ and speaks accordingly. If a Christian is going to speak his mind in the presence of others, he must be certain that he has the mind of Christ.
Two particular passages come to mind. First, I consider Asaph and his perspective as recorded in Psalm 73. As Asaph looked around at the condition of the world in general and his condition in particular, he formed an opinion of what God was doing. When he thought about the consequences of expressing that opinion within the community, he held his tongue so that his thoughts about God would not cause his fellow-believers to stumble (see verse 15). The second passage is that of Paul in Colossians 4 and his instructions about how we should conduct ourselves toward outsiders. Paul instructed his readers to behave wisely, making sure that their speech was always gracious and seasoned with salt. I believe Paul wanted the speech of Christians to be delicately flavored, not briny and distasteful.
Credibility once lost is very difficult to regain; a reputation damaged by controversy or unwise actions is very difficult to repair. Once damage is done, it takes a long time of back-breaking effort to rebuild. For the sake of the kingdom we should do everything in our power to always act and speak as faithful ambassadors of Christ, not as ambassadors of our own opinions.
Does that mean the church and leaders within the church should not speak with a prophetic voice? Far from it. But those who speak that way should bear in mind the test of a prophet and why God designed it that way. The standard God gave His people was this: “the prophet who dares to speak in My name a message I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods–that prophet must die.” Deuteronomy 18:20 The one who presumes to speak with a prophetic voice, that is, as God’s mouthpiece, must be certain that the things he is speaking actually come from God. We can and should declare the truth of God’s Word in the marketplace but it must be God’s truth we are declaring and not our own fallible opinions.
Remember the words of our Savior: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:50
By His Grace,