The text from Romans 10:5-15 is often used to emphasise the importance of evangelism or mission. Particularly the last two verses:
Rom 10:14 – 15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
This text is clear about the importance of being the bringer of good news. We need to speak, otherwise others cannot believe! But we hear that people are tired of hearing! We hear that “people” are tired of the style we believers often use, and of our judgementalism.
One of the “new” arenas in which we as people of faith move in, is electronic media. In the last weeks I have become very uncomfortable about the tone of discussions on Facebook. Eventually I got to the point where I commented about this.
This is what I posted:
Dear Facebook friend,
No, I will not share…
I accept that we all have differing opinions – that is part of what makes this such an exciting tool. I grow and learn by listening to the opinions of others.
My core ethic is one of life. I care for and support that which brings life. I do not believe that I can hold this ethic and support anything that brings death.
This means that I find all forms of murder and violence to all people abhorrent.
I cannot stand with the victims of violence, including women facing domestic violence or victims of farm murders in South Africa and at the same time support your call to bring back the death penalty.
I cannot stand with every Palestinian or Jewish parent who lost a child, and at the same time support Israel or Hamas who orders these deaths.
I cannot speak out about oppression and injustice if I do not acknowledge that balance of power and resources have a profound effect on the responses to challenges in communities and in individuals.
I cannot stand with Christians fleeing from ISIS in Syria, if I do not also support the freedom and rights of followers of Islam.
I cannot continue speaking up for those whose voices are not heard, if I do not believe that every individual I speak out for and every individual I speak out against is created in the image of God.
So…if I do not repost or share your request to bring back the death penalty, to support Israel, etc etc, I cannot…
I only mentioned a few examples, but there were many others I could have mentioned!
I have had a significant amount of interaction in response to this Facebook post, both on Facebook and in other discussions. Many people mentioned that they share the thoughts and feelings I expressed, but one or two thought that I “compromised”.
I was quite surprised by the response. I wonder if this is an indication that we need to re-think the way we “bring news” and if the news we bring is in fact still “good news”. Will our words and actions encourage others to “call on the name of the Lord”.
I wondered about the CABSA guiding principle where we say: Our responsibility is to break the silence by speaking the truth in love.” What does that mean in this context? What does speaking the truth mean when Christian have widely differing opinions: about the death penalty, about Israel and Palestine. about gender and sexuality, and about many other things.
To think about: How can conflict and differences of opinion among Christian contribute to “good news”?