A Letter to the Silent Disciple (A Christian response to Ferguson, Garner, and recent events)

Dear Silent Disciple,

I get it.

Everyone else is talking while you’re quiet. You’re been following the story, albeit from afar, through your twitter feed or FB newsfeed. Some of your friends have been picking and choosing chairs on the table of truth; whether it be the ones labelled “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” or “justice matters.”  People are streaming in, picking their chair of choice, all the while discussing and debating on where they stand and what should be done.

But you haven’t picked.

You are not even in the room.

I don’t know what your deal is. Maybe the reputation you’ve garnered in social circles or social media circles is more important to you than the family of Garner.  Maybe you have more important things to worry about than what’s happening hundreds of miles away. Maybe the atrocities that are happening elsewhere don’t really concern you directly. Maybe you believe that whatever you say or do is only going to be a pebble toss on a sea of opinions. Maye you’re just disinterested in the whole thing. Maybe you just don’t care.

But maybe…. you do.

Maybe you’re legitimately concerned. Maybe you’re so concerned that you are trying to figure out what’s the right course of action YOU need to take. Maybe you’ve been raised in a cross cultural context where everybody gets along. Maybe you’re struggling to pick a chair because you hear truth in all sides. Maybe you don’t even WANT to sit because you are so deeply troubled that you just have to move from one side of the table to the other to be there for all people. Maybe you are wondering what all this has to do with you being Christian.

Maybe you are wondering what I’m wondering right now:

As a disciple of Christ, should I respond? If so how?

If, in case you’re wondering that, this is my ‘two rupees’: ( because #SriLanka )

Let me be the first one to tell you this:

It’s OK to be silent.

I know you’ve seen many lash out at each other using their polemical whips laced with stats and statements. You’re so distressed by the opinion wars that you’d rather shut up and do what you can quietly.

That’s ok, because Jesus had a disciple just like you.

Someone who was didn’t really want to be a part of the action, but remained behind the scenes throughout his entire discipleship journey. He was a follower. A disciple. Yet silent. Unassuming. Quiet.

And here’s the kicker:

He was silent even while his Lord and Master was being crucified. Even while His hands were raised. Even while He couldn’t breathe. Even when everyone around Him was convinced that His life didn’t matter.

This silent disciple is named in the bible as Joseph of Arimathea.

Now before you get a little too comfortable and try to add him on Facebook, let me share with you what else we know about this dude:

“This man ( Joseph ) went to Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb and departed.” ( Matthew 27:58-60 – Bible)

Joseph was quiet. But not for long. When he knew he had to act, he acted. In fact, Joseph did what Jesus’ other well-intentioned, opinionated disciples were unwilling to do; sanitize his body and give him the dignity of a burial.

So what am I getting at?

Bro, sis, It’s ok to be silent. But fortunately or unfortunately for you, it won’t be ok forever.

I know it’s tough. But it was even tougher for Joseph. Being a wealthy Pharisee, he risked his social standing, any hopes of being promoted, his job, his family, and maybe even his life to do what he did. But when he knew he needed to do something out of his love for his Lord, he just went ahead and did what he could.

Didn’t tweet awater-drop-ripplebout it. Didn’t Facebook it. Didn’t make a documentary out of it. Just did it.

Friend. Both an earthquake and a pin drop accomplishes the same thing: Breaking silence. So please don’t compare your contribution to the conversation to someone else’s. Do what you can. It could be as small as “liking” a post because it shows solidarity with what you believe is right, or as big as being a part of a march to create awareness to pray for the victims as well as those who trying to do the right thing. Do you.

When should you do it? Only you know. Joseph didn’t ask.

At the end of the day, as a fellow disciple of Christ writing to a fellow disciple, whether you are coaxed into opinion or silenced by it, I want you to remember this:

Jesus didn’t need to go on a protest because His very life WAS a protest.

A protest against injustice. A protest against pride. A protest against sin.

My prayer for you brother, sister, is that this Christmas you will not see Jesus as a vulnerable baby but as a born king; whose birth spoke to the injustice of the Bethlehem infanticide, whose death answers injustice everywhere else, and whose soon return sings of an existence where joy is indescribable and “injustice” is indecipherable.

Merry Christmas.

What’s the right course of action for you as a disciple of Christ? Please share your thoughts and comments below!

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4 thoughts on “A Letter to the Silent Disciple (A Christian response to Ferguson, Garner, and recent events)

  1. Jordan Smart December 14, 2014 / 7:43 pm

    I struggled with not knowing what to do but I found that having conversations and seeing other’s perspectives really help. Educating ourselves and spreading that knowledge, even among our peers, helps to increase the social consciousness around us and drive out apathy and ignorance.

    • Kevin Wilson January 9, 2015 / 10:39 pm

      Absolutely, Jordan. Openness to understand different perspectives and education of social issues are not only essential but necessary. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Timothy D. December 14, 2014 / 7:59 pm

    Thanks for posting this. As you mentioned, silence does not necessarily mean indifference or contempt. It would be counterproductive to assume that. Rather, it can be a signal of deep thought and research spurred on by compassion for hurting people. It can be the signal of a search for fairness for all parties involved in an issue. It can be a search for the truth of the matter.

    These things may be hard to find and understand in real life situations in which so many variables are involved. The result may be silent inspection. However, the truth withstands scrutiny. After thoughtful silence often comes well-informed, competent, and compassionate action.

    • Kevin Wilson January 9, 2015 / 10:38 pm

      Thanks for that Tim! I like what you said about silence being more than giving consent to a prevailing evil or injustice. It can indeed be a “signal of deep thought and research” as you put. Thanks again for sharing.

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