August 6, 2019 | Dr. Michael Brown
It may not be conscious or explicit. It may not be overt. But when followers of Jesus decide to avoid controversial issues, adopting the mentality of, “I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me,” they are making a deal with the devil. They are compromising with darkness. Let the truth be told.
We may couch our compromise in terms of “wisdom” and “maturity.” We may cloak our non-commitment in the guise of “love.” But when we refuse to speak up and stand up because it is too costly to do so, we are not wise or mature or loving. We are not thinking about others. We are thinking about self, being motivated by convenience rather than conviction.
There Are Times to Act
To be sure, there are times when wisdom calls for silence and when maturity calls for inaction. We are not called to fight every fight and engage in every battle. We don’t need to weigh in on every controversy that comes our way.
But there are times to speak. And there are times to act.
At such times Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words ring true: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Or, as expressed by Martin Luther King, Jr., “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
How many of us today are dead while yet living? How many of us have lost a part of our humanity by choosing to be selfishly pragmatic rather than selflessly prophetic? How many of us have been paralyzed by the fear of negative consequences, thereby becoming captive to the enemy of our souls?
Jesus said to his followers, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).
This is what Bonhoeffer and King were trying to say, each in their own way. To save our lives is to lose them; to lose our lives is to save them.
Paralyzed by Jezebel
Three-thousand years ago, an ungodly queen named Jezebel declared war on God’s prophets, slaughtering many of them until they were reduced to hiding in caves. They lived together — in caves! — for months at a time in order to escape Jezebel’s wrath.
But this raises a serious question.
There are certainly times to flee and hide. Jesus himself taught, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next” (Matthew 10:23). There are, indeed, times to be silent.
But were none of these prophets called to confront Jezebel? Were all of them called by God to cower in caves? (Really?) Were all of them ordained to inaction?
Personally, I think not. I believe some, if not many, were paralyzed by Jezebel. They were silenced by an unholy spirit of fear rather than emboldened by the Holy Spirit of faith. It was terror, not obedience, that confined them to dark caves.
Would I have done differently if I were one of them? Would you? Only God knows. Perhaps we too would have been hiding in fear, making self-preservation our highest goal.
We, Too, Have Gone Into Hiding
But here in America, no one is putting a literal gun to our heads for preaching the gospel. No one is putting a knife to our throats for taking a stand for what is right. And yet so many of us have gone into hiding.
We don’t want to get unfriended on social media. (Try explaining that to a fellow-Christian who was tortured for his faith.)
We don’t want to lose the richest member of our congregation. (Try explaining that to a Christian woman who lost her husband to martyrdom and yet remains strong in the faith.)
We don’t want bad press in the local media. (Try explaining that to parents whose children were taken away from them because of their Christian beliefs.)
And so, we make a deal with a devil and enter into a pact with hell.
And rather than confront the Jezebelic spirit of the hour we come into agreement with this foul demon. “I won’t make any trouble for you if you won’t make trouble for me.”
My friend, that is no way to live!
Speak and Stand
I encourage every fellow-leader and every fellow-believer to take a moment to ask yourself if you have made a deal with the devil. If so, it’s high time to break that agreement.
1. It starts with asking God to forgive you for cowardice and compromise (which He will!).
2. Then we look to Him for help and grace and boldness and wisdom and compassion, putting on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-19).
3. Then, when it’s time to speak and stand, be it in the workplace or the home, be it on social media or behind the pulpit, we stand.