Silence is Complicity: Part 7 of 8

Collin Selman
8 min readSep 1, 2022

Fighting Injustice

In the previous post we wrestled with the idea of responsibility when it comes to living in a world full of sin. And the answer we landed on was that our ultimate responsibility which determines our guilt is to the Spirit. Bottom line: as Christians, if we are open to the Spirit’s working in our lives and have a clear conscience then we stand innocent before God.

The question of our guilt aside then, we still want to grapple with the question of sin in this world. For even though we may be guiltless before the throne, there is yet work to be done on earth. We cannot all be ascetic monks, separating ourselves from the world. The majority of us will eat, work, play, and live alongside unbelievers for all our lives. And with that living, we cannot turn a blind eye to all the pain in the world. But we do come face to face with the question of where to start. One could spend their entire lives pouring into a single person or maybe spending their days and nights toiling for the masses. But on a personal level, what should we do?

All ministry is sacred, whether we are tending to creation or neighbors or strangers. But just because ministry is needed does not give us a clear idea of where to spend our time, energy, and resources. There are some who receive calls on their lives early on and their whole lives are spent pursuing this calling. For others of us, however, it is an iterative process and one in which we may find ourselves spread out over many different issues.

But the key fact no matter where we stand, is that we cannot do it all. We are not the saviors of the world, only His ambassadors. And ambassadors are given specific mission fields, not free reign to go wherever they choose.

Strategy for Fighting

So how do we go about ministering to this world and fighting the sin and injustices around us? We must start with humility. Out of humility, we are able to grasp a clear picture of this world and ourselves. When we approach the world in confidence of who we are, who God is, what is wrong with the world (sin), and what the solution is (Christ) (these factors could otherwise be known as the Gospel) and with a humility beyond recognition, then we will gain wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).

Once we have prioritized this character (which Christ has put inside us), then we must get to work on serving those around us. It doesn’t matter what kind of work there is. Get to work. Change diapers in the children’s ministry. Serve meals at a shelter. Help a neighbor with yard work. Give a spontaneous gift. Whatever the Spirit puts in your path, do it. When we are attentive to His lead, opportunities to serve will come, make no mistake.

And in these services, even ones that drag or we see no immediate fruit, we will hopefully begin to realize our affections being shaped. It may not be for the thing we are currently doing. But maybe something connected or completely opposite. But whatever it is, a desire will grow within us to jump in with all that we have.

When these affections have become solidified, I would add two more steps before the jump, though. First, similar to other callings on your life, we should seek out the affirmation of those close to us. Do others see the passion that you have and the skills which would be fitting for the job? There is wisdom in good counsel (Proverbs 11:14).

Then the final step I would throw in there is preparation for faithfulness. The truth is that effective ministry, fighting injustice, righting wrongs, does not happen overnight. In most cases, there are uphill battles, setbacks, and a million other reasons to quit. But God does not give us these opportunities, affections, and affirmations lightly. If we feel we have been called to a mission, then let us prepare ourselves and be sure to define success by faithfulness to the call and not on any other external outcomes.

Now I have set up this route or laid out some advice which I hope would be helpful. It certainly may not be. Not everyone’s path will look the same. And let’s be honest, the path laid out in the previous paragraphs may have seemed dramatic or setting up for a lifetime commitment. But in reality, these truths that I have just laid out could apply to figuring out how to spend the rest of your life overseas or what ministry to dive into for the next year at your local church or community.

When it comes to true injustice in the world, our hearts should break no matter the cause. When God’s glory is defamed, our hearts should be inflamed. But let us be careful in how we spend our energy, not chasing after every instance of wrong but leaving room for God.

Looping back to where the original question of complicity originally came from, how does this relate to the issue of race today? Are race relations the most preeminent issue in today’s world deserving of everyone’s undivided attention? This might be unpopular, but probably not. Is it important and deserving of attention from the Church? Absolutely. Does the racial injustice in the United States and around the world break God’s heart? Absolutely. This issue needs its champions and warriors who are willing to stand with the weak and oppressed. And there certainly may come a time when all of us at some point or the other are able to be involved in some way.

But I think we ought to be very careful in an issue like this which is being sadly led out front by the world. The World is under very different marching orders, and just because their agenda may align with God’s will for a time (evidence of common grace), does not mean that we should adopt their strategies or slogans. It is easy to jump on a bandwagon that seems like it is going in the right direction. But often the destination is very different from where we are called to go.

And speaking of joining with others. Let us next turn our attention to one of the most important factors of tackling injustice: Community.

Treatment of Fellow Soldiers

Once we have been burdened by an issue God has placed on our hearts, one of the ways that we may prepare for faithfulness is to gather around ourselves, or more likely to join in with, like-hearted believers. We Christians are not meant to live this life alone. God has created us for communion not only with himself, but also with others. And this communion is not excluded when it comes to taking on injustice.

On a large and small scale, though, there is something important to keep in mind as we seek community to join in tackling injustice. That is that no one person will be doing the exact same thing as another. As an outflow of previous discussions, we have to realize that God has created us all differently, placed us in different contexts, and given us different strengths and callings and so there will be a huge diversity within the Church as a whole. This diversity results in completely different functions and purposes for different parts working together as a whole. But of course, if we have read up on Paul we are well aware of this dynamic.

As the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), we understand that the feet are not meant to see, the eyes to hear, or the hands to stand. We all are various parts and have our own roles. If the foot does not join in on eating, does that mean it does not care about food? No. Rather, they will do their duty of movement so that the stomach can be filled. We do not work in isolation from each other, but we also do not each share in the same burdens and responsibilities.

And so in the midst of this diversity, we have to understand that not everyone will share in our insights, passions, and pursuits. But even though they may not share in those aspects, it does not mean that they do not care or are apathetic to the injustice you seek to rectify. Can we beseech others to seek the Lord in these matters, pray for them, attempt to persuade them of the justice being sought? Yes, absolutely. And we need more of that.

But, going back to the issue of Complicity, we cannot go around binding other Christian’s consciences to our cause (however just or preeminent the cause may be). Now, is there a place to confront people with the truth of God’s Word and attempt to make a case of how it applies to today’s issues? Absolutely, that is what I am trying to do here myself! But from my experiences I see very little of these types of conversations. Instead, I see a whole lot of Christians (in my small bubble of course), berating other Christians for not protesting louder, crying out for justice more, or avoiding talking about certain topics. And the underlying assumption seems to be that if they are not doing those things, then they are part of the problem.

And they very well might be. People in your circles might be turning a blind eye to injustice or are blocking the Spirit’s work in particular areas of their lives. But especially in complex situations with deep nuance such as race relations, is it our job to berate fellow believers for not acting exactly as we do? Or do we feel confident enough pushing people to act outside of their consciences? It is unfortunate, but the sentiment seems to persist even in Christian circles that, “If you are not with me, then you are against me.” (And we know who said that at this point, right?!) Only those whose wisdom is darkened would color these issues as black and white and not allow nuance to inform their advocacy.

In fact, I tend to remember a different quote from someone else. A quote along the lines of “if you are not against us, then you are with us.” A very different outlook from the Complicity crowd. Now you ask, who would have said that? That would be our Lord, Jesus Christ (Mark 9:40).

Christ’s disciples saw others who were doing work but not in the way that they themselves were doing it. They came back to the Lord and complained that others were doing it wrong and should be stopped. How did Christ respond? Not by shutting the others down or by saying, “this way or the highway.” No, he chided his disciples for thinking too narrowly and encouraged them that the work of the kingdom will be accomplished by many different hands that may all look, operate, and work differently.

It is not up to us to determine who should play what role, which body parts should perform which functions. What we can do is come to our brothers and sisters humbly and seek their partnership in our struggle, pursue honest conversations, and start sowing understanding through relationship instead of resentment through reproach.

Everyone has a different battleground, a different platform, a different audience and influence. Everyone may react to events differently. Everyone may see a different side than you can. It is our job to learn from those who are different from us to attempt to attain a unity beyond understanding (Ephesians 4:3–6).

This is no small or easy task. Today’s world feeds off outrage, snap reactions and judgements, and a cacophony of noise. All of these things are greased by the oil of social media, a blessing and curse. Due to its prevalence and use in these days in relation to injustices, tackling its use deserves a section all of itself. And because this one has gone on long enough, we will tackle it in a separate concluding post.

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Collin Selman

A Christian, a husband, a father, a blue-collar intellectual, an engineer, a carpenter, a gardener, and who knows what else in the future.