I had a wonderful “blog break” and I’m glad to be back.
It is a healthy choice to turn off the world for a while and think about other things. One of my favorite things about this COVID season is the chance to step away from the busy and enjoy the boredom. A quiet mind is a good thing.
But, a quiet mouth might not be good, especially now.
That is what prompted this week’s thoughts.
Christians are self-censoring
The Cato Institute had a fascinating article that pointed out that 62 percent of Americans have political views they are “afraid to share.” More than 60 percent of conservative people are afraid to share their religious views, and that number increases to 77 percent if the person is over the age of sixty-five. Thirty-one percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Republicans are afraid they might lose their jobs if they voice their political opinion.
The article stated, “Taking these results together indicates that a significant majority of Americans with diverse political views and backgrounds self-censor their political opinions.”
I don’t write a “political” blog post to sway votes. So, why should that article matter?
The line in the article that gave me pause and inspired this blog post said, “If people feel they cannot discuss these important policy matters, such views will not have an opportunity to be scrutinized, understood, or reformed.”
If more than 60 percent of “conservatives” self-censor their political beliefs, doesn’t it stand to reason they are likely doing the same with their religious beliefs?
When was the last time you heard a Christian speak about their faith at a dinner party? A PTA meeting? A staff meeting? A neighborhood party?
Have we allowed our culture to define what is appropriate, or have Christians allowed God’s Spirit to do that?
What does the Bible say about self-censoring our Christian witness?
When is self-censoring a good idea?
No one who knows me well wonders who I am going to vote for.
In fact, most of you who read this blog can probably guess.
But, you won’t read a blog post from me telling you to vote for a certain person. We are a ministry, and it is against the law for a 501(c)(3) to do that (a message a few preachers probably need to hear).
Is that “self-censoring”?
And it is the right thing to do for our ministry and for our readers. I will vote my values and you will too. That is your right as a citizen of the United States.
But, what is the right thing to do as a citizen of heaven?
God’s word about a self-censored witness
There is a passage to ponder on the subject of self-censoring our Christian witness that I think is going to become increasingly important in the years ahead.
Paul lived, worked, and composed his letters during a period of history when speaking up for his Christian faith could be costly. Eventually, speaking up cost Paul his life. But he wrote a passage in Romans that is an important word for Christians to memorize, believe, and act upon.
In Romans 1, Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (vv. 15–17).
I would sum up Paul’s words by saying, “When the faithful self-censor our gospel witness, we give up the power to lead others to faith.”
Are you ashamed of the gospel?
The world wants us to feel ashamed if we say there is:
- only one way to enter heaven
- only one true God
- only one permissible and blessed sexual relationship
- only one choice for an unborn life
- only one gospel
- only one holy Bible
Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”
Can we repeat his words of faith, with his conviction?
The gospel is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
I’m ashamed for those times I “self-censored” in order to feel appropriate to the culture. I’ve prayed for God’s forgiveness and asked him to give me another chance—or, more likely, give another witness that blessing. If we withhold the gospel, we withhold God’s power for salvation from those who need to believe.
We have all self-censored our faith when we were made to feel uncomfortable. We have all avoided situations when we knew our faith would be challenged. We are often made to feel “ashamed of the gospel.”
It’s safe to say it isn’t God’s Spirit causing us to feel that way.
When should Christians self-censor?
There is a verse for guidance that is too often used as a verse for avoidance. But, there are times when a Christian should self-censor. Peter wrote, “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
We are called to defend the gospel, not offend by using the gospel.
We should never share God’s truth unless we have first taken the time to honor Christ as the Lord of our lives, our attitudes, and, most especially, our words.
We are to live faithfully prepared to share the gospel through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. If we use it like a weapon, with any motivation other than gentleness and respect, we are usurping God’s power and using our own.
The gospel, shared by a Spirit-led Christian, is the power of God for salvation.
We share our faith because we care what others think, not because we don’t.
What should we self-censor?
Should we “self-censor” our politics? Sometimes.
Should we “self-censor” our faith? Rarely.
Should we live as “God-censored” believers? Always.
God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Paul wrote, “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Never be ashamed that you know the truth and want to share it with others. We speak up because we care.
Our culture needs to know God, and Christians have the power to help.
Will you pray for the opportunity?