I joined Facebook about a year or so after I had graduated from college. At that time it had just opened up to the public and was continuing to grow at a blistering pace. I was excited to join this new form of social media because it would allow me to keep up with current friends and reconnect with old ones in a way that I had never been able to before. I could post public messages or send private ones and update my status to let people know what I was up to but over the last 5 years or so social media has become something more and is having an increasingly greater impact on society, something we saw in full force during our last presidential election. The problem with social media is that sometimes statements, or the lack thereof, about, for example, social issues and other world events, can lead to a misinterpretation of one’s views about these events. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t speak out about these issues on social media and other platforms, we absolutely should, but to assume that that’s the only way to bring about real change in our world is wrong. You don’t have to put a filter over your profile picture or change your cover photo to show support for a cause. When everything went down in Charlottesville, Virginia last month I shared a friend of mine’s post condemning those actions as unchristian and evil but, to be honest I didn’t share that post because I agreed with what my friend was saying (which, just to be clear, I absolutely did/do. Racism in any form has no place in a civilized society and it has absolutely no place in the church of Jesus Christ). I shared it because, quite frankly, I had to. I had to so that I wouldn’t be seen as ignoring the problem or worse, being part of the problem. Because I’m a white male I didn’t want people to assume that my silence was equal to me condoning what happened there.
I have the privilege of working at a job where I interact on a daily basis with those who can’t speak up for themselves. I get to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. I could spend the majority of my time retweeting the Special Olympics but I’ve chosen not to do that. I’ve chosen to take action and actually do something to help people with disabilities have a better life. The apostle James told us to “put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived”. In other words, don’t just tweet that racism is wrong, work to overcome it. Racism is something that is deeply ingrained in American history and it is going to take a lot of work to defeat it, something that a series of Facebook posts alone won’t do and don’t assume that because someone is silent about it, or any other issue, on social media they don’t care about it. Our actions really not only speak louder than our words but they also vibrate longer. More than 50 years later we’re still talking about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. School children continue to learn about Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman more than a century after the end of slavery. Why? Because they didn’t just say that things needed to change they took steps to see that change become reality. They realized that our actions reflect our hearts in a way that words can’t. May it be said of the church that we didn’t just bang on our pulpits but that we were actively involved in our communities to bring lasting, Gospel-powered change to those around us.