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When silence speaks volumes: Christian leaders are favoring neutrality over the Gospel

By Emily Phillips
Feb 14, 2017

They'd rather not cause an argument, rather not take a side, rather not get “political.” Instead, they post Facebook statuses from Revelation; reminding the world that God is going to win in the end, and turn their eyes away from CNN and onto something more comfortable to talk about over the Sunday dinner table.

In part, they’re right. God is going to win in the end, and His Kingdom isn’t on American soil, so that’s good news to rest in. But at some point, the Bibles these people are reading must begin to impact their responses to social issues bigger than “the war on Christmas.”

Christian leaders, pastors, and ministry departments are shying away from these conversations, claiming that they don’t want to mix politics and religion. But by not saying something, they’re making a statement.

Inside a refugee camp in Northern Greece, girls pretend to run a nail shop. The Church claims to care for these children, but many would prefer just sending money. Photo by refugee girl, name unknown. Inside a refugee camp in Northern Greece, girls pretend to run a nail shop. The Church claims to care for these children, but many would prefer just sending money. Photo by refugee girl, name unknown.

They’re saying that this isn’t worth the discomfort. They’re saying that our unity is more important than the fear of immigrants and minorities within their audiences and circles. They’re saying that this isn’t really that serious, that nothing that bad will happen, and that the Syrian refugees can find a voice from a different outlet.

And they are. The marginalized and cast-aside are being given a voice, and it’s coming in large part from outside the people called “Christian.”  

Airbnb, “a community marketplace” that connects people with hosts and homes to rent, has pledged to provide short-term housing to 100,000 displaced people over the next five years.

Uber, a company connecting drivers with people needing a ride, has said that they will pay their drivers stuck in other countries due to the travel ban pro bono, as well as provide free transportation for those affected by the ban. In the CEO’s press release he wrote, “in order to serve cities you need to give their citizens a voice, a seat at the table.” That sounds pretty theological for being outside the church.

Kal Penn, Indian actor and former associate director of the White House office of public engagement, has raised nearly $900,000 for Syrian refugees as a response to an offensive tweet directed to him after President Trump’s executive order.

Starbucks has pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in the next five years (four years ago, they made the same commitment to veterans, and they’re currently at 8,800). Interestingly, the “Christian response” to the infamous red cups a few years ago was vastly different to the response of this political statement. This time, there hasn’t been one.

The Church is missing an opportunity here, and volumes are being spoken in its silence. It seems that the “offensiveness of the gospel” only means that pastors should preach against sexual promiscuity and alcohol abuse. The words that don’t allow us to seek prosperity and safety by ignoring innocent lives have remained unspoken, even though they are found in the commands of Moses, Amos and Jesus. Nowhere in the gospel is any sort of promise for safety given, but a clear command to die for those who hate us. The world is responding to this injustice far before Christian leaders seem willing to, and they are extending a much better Kingdom than our well-intentioned reminders that God will win in the end. God needs to begin winning now, through Christian voices and Christian lives. At some point, the gospel must become social. It must take on skin, shed itself of the love of comfort and security and spread its arms on a cross to die if necessary.

Emily Phillips

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