“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)
I usually listen to news radio on my way to and from work, lately I find myself hitting the “off” button on my car radio with a little more urgency and disgust than normal. The other day I hit it so hard I thought maybe I had broken it; sometimes I wonder how much that button can take before it gives up.
Then there is the problem of what happens after the off button: the disturbing silence, the noiseless void begging to be filled by my thoughts. More often than not my thoughts are more than willing to fill and overflow the void.
I struggle with deciding how much to say, when, where, and to who. From video tapes of police shootings in Chicago, to the presidential race, to terrorism attacks on home soil, to international climate talks, etc. etc. (the list goes on and on) there is no shortage of real, present, vehement debate happening in our country. Believe you me, I have plenty to say about all of these topics.
But I’m reminded that my job as a Christian is not to say what I think, but to live who Jesus is. Sometimes that will mean using my mouth, and sometimes not. “Just get out of the way of the Gospel,” a friend once told me. That’s been good advice, and I think it is in many ways a summary of what it means (and looks like) to be someone who knows and follows Jesus.
The Gospel* has a pretty powerful voice of its own, and we would do well, brothers and sisters, to let it speak up.
Let me offer you an example with a contemporary issue: The massive refugee crisis that is underway as a result of Syrian civil war and the rise of Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL) and the response of Americans (especially political leaders) about the US role in responding to that crisis.
What does getting out of the way of the Gospel look like? If only we had a seasonally appropriate Biblical story to tell about Middle Eastern refugee families on the run for their lives from a corrupt and murderous government being turned away by the heartless. Oh wait, we do. It’s called Christmas.
The Christmas story in and of itself offers one of the most powerful referendums on the current American conversation on immigration and geo-politics that I can think of. If you can’t extrapolate what the Christmas story has to do with immigration on your own, you need to read it again, I’m not going to patronize you with the obvious.
Friends, the Biblical story has some things to say, and our world needs to hear them as much as it ever has. It’s our job to get serious about telling that story. It’s our job to “get out of the way of the Gospel.”
May we be Salt, Light, and Hope for a weary and confused world this Advent Season.
*”Gospel” is a Biblical term that means “good news.” Specifically here it means the good news that Jesus, because of his resurrection, is certainly the King of the world.
Noah can be reached via email here.