More than once during these past harrowing months of political strife, racial upheaval, gender clash, and conspiracy speculation, friends and acquaintances online have demanded noise. They have called again and again for the cymbals of opinion and conjecture to be endlessly crashed into the atmosphere of public discourse. To remain quiet, they reason, is to be complicit in the evils around us. Quiet, they claim, is weakness. Being still and speechless is no longer an acceptable option in a culture that values its own noise above all else.
I’m not the only one who has felt pressured to speak. I’ve seen it in so many friends online–the shared status updates, the hashtags, the desire to create a profile that spells out the fact that they are not okay with this wicked thing or that wicked thing. Everyone has rushed to crash their cymbals, to proclaim their opinions, to shoot fireworks that they hope will spell out exactly what they approve of and what they don’t. I’ve seen friends turn against each other in comment boxes. I’ve seen Christians attack one another over simple differences of opinion. Everyone seems to feel the need to rush to speak, to run to their soapbox, to shout louder and faster than anyone else, and the basic labels that everyone seems to want to slap on each other are “Good Human” or “Bad Human.”
Memes point out that “we are not the same,” indicating of course that one of us is good and one is bad. Status updates take on a threatening tone: “I will remember who was silent” about whichever outrage we’re dealing with that day. Ordinarily sweet friends post invitations daily for anyone who disagrees to unfollow them, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
When it comes to social media, we seem to be taking on all the qualities of the double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. We are blown about by every thought, desire, opinion, and news story, even if it is completely (and quite obviously) fake. It isn’t enough for social media users to shout at the top of their lungs, though. They are now demanding that the rest of us shout, too, or face the consequences.
So, if you are feeling pressured by demands to speak, step back from the deafening whirlwind of opinions and consider this: God loves a quiet and gentle spirit. The God who tells us to be still values wise silence. He calls us to know when to speak and when to be quiet. The Proverbs are filled with warnings about people who are too quick to speak, who irritate and quarrel. It warns about people who won’t control their tongues or their tempers, who won’t listen to wise counsel, who love to hear themselves talk. Fools, they’re called.
I know that many Christians feel like we have a righteous indignation sort of thing going on. We love to feel like we’re Jesus in the temple, turning over tables and driving money-changers out with whips. But in truth, when we look at the oft-quoted Micah 6:8, what is it that the prophet tells the people that God wants from them? He wants them to walk justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord.
It’s rare to find mercy and humility in league with shouting.
There is, of course, a time to speak. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this is your time to do so. In a world that places so much value on noise and personal opinion, remember that God values very different things. So, don’t allow even your fellow Christians to dictate to you when you should speak or when you should be silent. Don’t let a double-minded mob on social media rob you of a quiet and gentle spirit. To God, such a thing is precious.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4