“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (Proverbs 10:19, NLT)
“… let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18, NLT)
It is no longer enough to not be racist. In today’s climate we are told that we must speak out against racism and to use our social media platform to demonstrate our commitment. A new term emerged in the last several years to describe this behavior. “Virtue Signaling” is defined in the Urban Dictionary: “To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.”
In an article from The Guardian, David Shariatmadari argues that “the typicality of virtue signaling to show off one’s own values makes it no different than the acts that it was supposed to abhor. That is, virtue signaling is designed to call out individuals on their lack of action, but the very act of doing so is an act of virtue signaling in itself.”
As followers of Christ, we need to go beyond essentially meaningless words and gestures which cost us little and learn to do those things which will make a difference. Solomon, a wise man, told us that too much talk leads to sin. That is not to say that we should not raise our voices against racism and injustice, but that we must find a tangible course of action that will make a difference. Talk is cheap and so are social media posts because they require no real commitment and essentially it is just background noise.
John powerfully tells us that it is not enough to say that we love each other, but that we must demonstrate the truth through our actions. For our actions to be effective there must be personal involvement. Acknowledging that racism is a problem and offering sympathy and understanding is a start, but to go farther requires that we come alongside and tangibly show our commitment by our actions.
The Greek word paraklēsis means a “calling to one’s side.” It is another form of the word that John uses to describe the Holy Spirit as our advocate or comforter in John 14. It is translated as encouragement in this passage: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:5–7, NIV)
With the Holy Spirit as our example, we come alongside our brothers and sisters so that united in mind and voice we give glory to God and just as Christ accepted us, we accept one another. We should speak out against racism and injustice, but realistically, in this present world these evils will never be eradicated until Jesus returns and reigns.
We come alongside one another, regardless of race or background, to encourage and build each other up “in our most holy faith.” We have fellowship together, we eat together, we laugh together and cry together. We commit to pray for one another united as members of the same body of Christ.
This act of unity is a visible demonstration of carrying out the Great Commission. Unity in the body of Christ is one of the most effective tools that we have available to us because when we are united, regardless of the color of our skin, our language or where we came from, the world will be forced to take notice. In more than words or gestures, the love that we demonstrate will be a beacon of light amid darkness, offering hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. We are the body of Christ!