I recently interacted with some other Christians about the whole Chick-Fil-A thing. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Where do we as Christians speak up? Where do we hold back? How do our opinions on this issue affect our Gospel witness? Do they affect it at all? Here was my response when the conversation turned to Matthew 10:16 as a proof-text.

It is interesting that we would utilize Matthew 10:16 as a proof-text for unnecessary engagement on the Chick-Fil-A kerfuffle. If we consider the context, Jesus is giving his apostles initial instructions for what, where, how, and to whom they are to preach:

Where/To Whom:  “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (10:5-6)

What: And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (10:7)

How: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (10:8-14)

Now, we quote verse 16, but forget about verses 5-15. What’s the context? Jesus is talking about proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and demonstrating its power. He is not talking about defending religious or civil liberty. He is not talking about political engagement. He has an opportunity to protest the government just a few short verses later (Matthew 11) with John the Baptist’s imprisonment. But he does nothing. All he says about John is “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Translation: I am about my Father’s work, not about getting you released from your unfair imprisonment. Don’t get offended. I am the real thing and you’re going to die in prison.

When we get to verse 16 He gives his disciples a warning to be careful. Don’t hold back the message. Be shrewd, but harm no one. In fact, in just a few more verses Jesus will tell them not to be afraid, because persecution is coming; they should expect it. But why? Because we proclaim an offensive message. “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand!” And then we DO things which are consistent with this proclamation. Be as offensive as is necessary! But be offensive about the right thing! The Gospel!

The Chick-Fil-A issue is a distraction at best. Know your boundaries. Who is Jesus calling you to go to right now? If he were to speak verses 5-6 to you, where would he tell you to go? Who would he tell you to speak to? What message is he giving you to speak? He already gave it in verse 7. He didn’t tell us to “Go and make sure to speak up for and defend civil liberties.” Though civil liberties are important, the only reason we even have them is because we have two thousand years’ worth of gospel proclamation behind us. The gospel is the basis for all liberties, civil or otherwise.

Increased gospel proclamation and demonstration where people are influenced by the “law” of the heavenly Kingdom (where their hearts are changed and renewed) will do more to impact the social strata than any form of public/political engagement.

If someone were to ask me how I feel about the Chick-Fil-A issue, I would probably not answer the question. I would instead ask, “why do you care?” and then I would swing to the way the gospel intersects with the reason they care. Whether they support Tom Menino or Dan Cathy, every issue people bring up is a gospel opportunity. Let them be offended by the gospel, not by how you feel about the treatment of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Align yourself with Jesus so that they have to deal with him, not Dan Cathy.

My point? Stick to the main issue. This controversy provides yet another opportunity to proclaim the good news of a completely different Kingdom. If people are going to be offended by you as a believer, wherever you and they land on the Chick-Fil-A thing, make sure they’re offended with Jesus, not you, Dan Cathy or Tom Menino.