How should Christians respond to the disturbing and violent protests and riots in the streets of our cities?
As God’s people, we always begin with prayer. In this case, we have plenty to pray for. People are getting hurt, sometimes killed. We must pray for God’s healing to those who are injured and for God’s comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
We should also pray for a stop to the violence, that God’s Spirit will intervene and bring peace to our troubled nation. We can ask God to change people’s hearts because he has the power to do so.
We should ask God to give us understanding, which leads us to our second response. We must discern. In other words, we must make sound judgments. The issues are political, moral, and spiritual. They require choices. Ours should be godly choices.
Discernment begins with information. We should be informed. This requires listening, reading, and thinking. More than merely considering the various human perspectives, we must understand God’s perspective on the issues. This comes from prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with mature believers.
When these hot-button subjects come up in our daily lives, we must use our discernment. First, we discern when to speak and when to be silent. Sometimes we say too much, other times we are too silent. God’s Spirit helps us to achieve the right balance.
In addition to knowing about the issues, we should know the people we interact with. Our conversation should reflect the circumstance. Speaking to an aggressive partisan whose heart and mind are closed requires a different approach from speaking to a confused seeker who is honestly searching for answers.
When we speak, we speak the truth in love. God’s truth is more powerful than our opinions. When we speak in accordance with God’s word, we are on solid ground and our words will have a ring of spiritual authority. All else is fleeting.
Truth can be spoken with anger and hatred. We must speak the truth in love. Biblical love is more than emotion. In the moment, we may not feel positive emotions toward the other person(s), but we can act in love by seasoning our speech with grace.
Finally, our goal in speaking must ultimately be to win the soul, not the argument. Political conflicts tend to have a great sense of urgency because they effect our lives now. But we must also remember the eternal context.
It is possible to win political arguments and battles that are here today and gone tomorrow, and yet lose souls for eternity. At times, we may even lose the political struggle yet win souls. Which will we prioritize?
God’s word reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. People are the objects of God’s redemption, people of all political persuasions! Jesus died on the cross for people, not politics.
Yes, Jesus will reign with truth and righteousness as King of kings and Lord of lords in his eternal kingdom. Every political foe will be defeated. We get impatient for that great victory. So did Jesus’ disciples. They asked him, “When?!” He told them not to worry about the when, but to get busy with the what. The what is winning souls for Christ.
We are ambassadors for Christ. We represent him. Our response to the things in this world, including the riots and protests, reflects on our Lord. We speak for Jesus. Let’s do it well!
May God’s Holy Spirit give us the words to speak,