Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Italy and, specifically, the Roman Coliseum. A massive structure that was once an almost-fictional atrocity in my mind’s eye suddenly became real to me. It was in that edifice that human beings would brutally fight to the death as entertainment for the masses.
According to an article on Christian Activism, the popular blood sport of gladiators was one of the most watched forms of entertainment in the ancient world, until one day a monk named Telemachus, moved by his belief that God created people in the image of God and that humans should not rip themselves apart like wild animals, jumped into the arena and tried to separate the gladiators.
The emperor at the time was so moved by Telemachus' passionate display and martyrdom that he abolished the gladiatorial contests.
This is just one of many examples of how brave Christians helped shape and positively impact the world as we know it today. As we move into the 19th century, we have the example of William Wilberforce, who labored for twenty years in Britain’s Parliament to outlaw the slave trade.
Why would Telemachus and Wilberforce devote their life and breath to embrace these issues of their day? They did so because they were moved by their God-given conscience to create a better day than the one that they were experiencing. They were compelled to not stand back and ignore the evils of their society. Even our Lord Jesus overthrew the money changers’ tables in the temple because of individuals taking advantage of travelers coming to Jerusalem to sacrifice.
As we speak, there are individuals around the world who are seeking to bring change to the injustice and evil that prevails. It is not enough simply to acknowledge them and feel bad. Instead, we must make ourselves part of the solution.
Thomas Minnery, the author of Why You Can’t Stay Silent, wrote, “The fact is, when hearts are changed by the gospel, those hearts begin to beat in new rhythms. These are the people who, renewed in Christ, begin to see with fresh eyes what is wrong, because the gospel has taught them what is right. They are the ones who cannot ignore what is happening around them, the ones who stand up and say, ‘Somebody has to do something!’”
So, what does "doing something" look like? For some, it may be educating your family and friends, writing a letter, calling a politician, demonstrating, volunteering, donating, or even creating a solution to a societal problem.
All of us believers should take a look around us and look within ourselves to see if the answer may be closer than we think. Just think: What if we stayed silent?
-Hunter Konkle, Pastoral Staff at Bethel Baptist Fellowship Brooklyn, NY and a native of Montoursville, PA