Short answer. You don’t have it. You don’t.
Now, I know some are thinking, “By God, I can say whatever I want, damn it.” Others are thinking, “We must speak out and protest.”
Perhaps you need to protest. Believe me, I think there is a lot we need to speak out against. But the fact remains that if you claim to be a follower of Jesus, then you have given up the right to say whatever you want.
“It is not what goes into a person’s mouth, but what comes out of that person’s mouth that makes a person unclean.” -Matthew 15:11
Yesterday, I was in the commuter’s dream, two lanes merging into one. Car #1 was in the right lane, dutifully moving forward, protecting his place in the flow. Car #2 blasted up the left lane, and really wanted to merge in front of #1. #1 was having none of it. Lest any of us thought #1 might bend a little, #1 put his window down, his left hand out, and raised his middle finger at #2. Left it there. Hanging out there until all of us made it through the construction zone.
I don’t know who these people were, but sitting behind them both, I had the chance to watch the whole thing, and it got me thinking.
Followers of Jesus, we give up the right to say whatever we want. We are called to enter into some really messy conversations, as yes, we are called to lend a voice to those who have none, to speak out against oppression and injustice. But we always need to be thoughtful about how we are entering into those conversations and what we are adding to them.
Saying whatever we want may not be the most helpful thing. And saying what needs to be said might not be the thing we really want to so say. But if we are guided by something bigger than blowing off steam, we need to choose our words carefully. Words that might lead to a solution instead of simply adding to the noise at best, or creating more divisiveness at worst.
Use your voice. Use it well.