Should We Sit Down, Shut Up and Stay in our Place as Christians?
 
Should We Sit Down, Shut Up and Stay in our Place as Christians?
10.23.12
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Written by Pastor Bob Moeller

Recent events have again renewed the debate among Christians as to our proper role in speaking to the moral and social issues of our time such as the definition of marriage, governmental coercion to override religious convictions, and the rights of the unborn to enjoy the same protections we do.    

On the one hand there are those who say speaking to current social and moral issues detracts from our primary mission of winning the lost to Christ. Such debates, they argue, polarize people and alienate the unbeliever.    

On the other hand there are those who believe political engagement is the mandate of every believer to stop the downward decay of society and our culture. A voter’s guide, they believe, should be inserted somewhere between the doxology and the youth group announcements in the Sunday bulletin.    

Who is right and who is wrong? To answer that question we need to revisit our heritage as Christians and look to the example of John the Baptist, about whom Jesus once said, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11)   

John the Baptist was called to “prepare the way” for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet, that same prophetic calling to proclaim righteousness and call sinners to repentance led him to boldly confront King Herod and denounce the monarch’s decision to take the wife of his brother Philip for his own.    

Did John the Baptist lose his head because he got foolishly diverted into palace politics? Or did he give up his life because he was called to make straight the way of the Lord and that included speaking to the glaring social and moral evils of his day?    

Our heritage as Christians should teach us that in times of moral crisis sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be the root of our mission. Yet, applying this same Gospel message to the great social and moral questions of our time should be a fruit of our mission. We don’t have to choose between sharing the Gospel on the one hand and calling sin for what it is on the other.  

Another example of this truth is from 18th and 19th century America. As a history major in college I was deeply impacted by a book entitled, “Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War on Slavery.” It told the largely untold story (and now ignored narrative) of how Bible-believing Christians in the 1830’s, 1840’s and 1850’s risked their reputations, jobs, and even their lives to publicly decry and work against the institution of slavery.    

One pastor, a faithful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, had his house burned, his printing press thrown in the river, and he himself was beaten by his neighbors. Why? Because he dared to say in writing and from the pulpit that buying and selling human beings made in the image of God was contrary to the Gospel message. My wife grew up in the Wesleyan denomination that came into being nearly a century earlier primarily because of their opposition to slavery.    

Yet, to listen to the narrative of the Left and Secular Progressives these days you would think American conservative Christians are racist in origin and maliciously committed to the oppression of others. How does this narrative square with the fact that the Underground Railroad that freed countless slaves ran right through countless churches? As Ronald Reagan once observed, “Facts are stubborn things.”   

Another example of embracing the Gospel but calling out moral evil was the great Dutch Resistance member, Corrie Ten Boom.  In her autobiography, The Hiding Place, she recounts how during the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II, she along with her unmarried sister, Betsy, and their 110 year old father (yes, I got his age right), built a concealed attic in their home they used to hide Dutch Jews who had been marked for death camps.   

Her father, Papa Ten Boom (a Gentile Christian) volunteered to publicly wear a Star of David on his coat that the Nazi occupiers forced all Jews to wear in Holland. When asked by a Jewish friend why he did this, he calmly replied, “If we all wear the Star, then the Germans won’t be able to tell who is a Jew and who is not.”   

Eventually, Corrie Ten Boom and her family were betrayed and arrested for their underground activities. But miraculously the Jews hid in their upstairs attic all escaped capture. Corrie’s father was offered amnesty by the Germans if he would stay in his home and renounce his underground activities. His answer to the German officer was, “If I stay home, I will open my door to every Jew who knocks and welcome them in.” He was promptly arrested and sent to jail where he died 10 days later.    

Again, facts are stubborn things. For all the caricatures by the Left and the Media that Christians are out of touch, mean spirited and anti-Semitic, a true telling of history reveals a story quite to the contrary.    

That brings us back to the important question American Christians must face today. Is our only choice between limiting our activities to sharing the Gospel message or risk abandoning the Great Commission to speak to the moral and social evils of our day?    

History teaches us and over that this is a false dilemma. The great heroes of the faith exercised what I call the Third Option.    

While they remained utterly committed to proclaiming the eternal Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ through grace alone, they were also committed because of this Gospel message to confronting and condemning the moral and social evils of their day.   

We should all be thankful that John the Baptist, Lewis Tappan and Corrie Ten Boom didn’t sit down, shut up, and stay in their place. The Gospel has advanced and the world is a better place because they refused to do so. Should the Lord Jesus wait to return, what will future generations of believers say about us and our actions during this great hour of crisis?   

I believe it’s time for us to stand up, say something and refuse to stay in our place.  


Bob Moeller is a pastor who cares deeply about marriages and helping couples connect their hearts for a lifetime.Bob is an in-demand conference and retreat speaker, radio personality, an author, and television host.

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