Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speaking Out

I ended my last post with a few questions:

When you are passionate about seeing change, do you think it is more effective to fight against the thing you don't like, or to fight for the thing you want to see? Do you see a distinction between the two, or do you feel they are the same thing?

Is there a time for specifically speaking out against something?

It has taken me longer to get back to this topic than I intended, but I needed to think about it for a while myself.

Before I get started, please note that these are simply the ideas I'm mulling over in my own head. My conclusions may not apply to everyone; for that matter, they may not always apply to me. As I think through these things more, I may change my perspective. But for now, this is where I am.

As I stated in my last post, when it comes to things that matter to me, I have become more convinced that my role is that of an encourager, not one who tears down the things I am against. I am not sure that constantly railing against various topics is really the way to shine a light on the changes I want to encourage.

Should that apply to everyone? I have absolutely no idea. But it is something that has irritated me about a few different Christian books lately because it seems like there is a lot of negative talk about whatever the author doesn't like. And this led to the question, "Is there a time for specifically speaking out against something?"

After thinking the question over for a while, I think my answer is yes. Yes, there are times that it is appropriate to speak out against things that are going on in our culture, in our world, and certainly in the church.

Where I think I part ways with the authors of some of these books is, I think that probably the most appropriate context for speaking out against something is relationship.

When Paul wrote letters to the various churches, they were not books written to the Church as a whole. Yes, they became part of the Bible we read today, but Paul certainly didn't write these letters with the goal to have them published, sell them, and to change the face of Christian culture as a whole. He was writing to specific churches, specific people he had relationships with, addressing specific issues within those churches.

I'm not saying Christian books are useless. I think they certainly serve a purpose, and I think God absolutely can and does use them to speak to people. I know God has spoken to me before through Christian books. But I do think they are to be taken with a grain of salt. In the end, the author does not know me or you or most of his or her audience. There is no relationship there. And I think a lot of times, real changes take place slowly, one person at a time, through relationship and community.

Of course, publishing a book is not the only way to speak out against something without the foundation of relationship; there are ways that people just like you and me can do it too. Facebook status updates, blog posts, and so on. So what do you think? If you feel the need to speak out against something, do you do it in a public way so anyone and everyone can see it, or do you do it more quietly in the context of relationship? Why?

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