Speaking Truth to Power
29 March 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 14:1-11 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
1 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” 3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet… 9…but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. (Matthew 14:1-5, 9–11 NLT)
Speaking truth to power cost John the Baptist his life. John spoke truth to people at all levels of society. He confronted religious leaders, challenging Pharisees for being legalistic and hypocritical, and challenging Sadducees for using religion to advance their political position. He told people to give to the poor and feed the hungry, he told tax collectors to be fair and just, and he told Roman soldiers not to abuse their might, but when he confronted Herod Antipas (a weak king who pretended to be strong) he was locked up and eventually beheaded in prison.
John and Jesus didn’t avoid political issues, but neither was political. They taught values and spoke against sin, but neither advocated for party, ideology, or individual. Heaven’s Kingdom is not of this world and will not be advanced by an ideology, a party, or an elected official. But Heaven’s Kingdom is very much in this world and its citizens are called to be salt, light, and yeast. Salt to season and preserve. Light to expose darkness and show the way. Yeast to raise the level of discourse.
To be political or not? Over the past two years I’ve watched friends decide how to address the world of politics. Some have passionately dived in on one side or the other. Some have taken on a particular issue. Some have cautiously dipped their toes into the raging current with an occasional comment. And some have steered clear. Who’s right?
To be political or not? Don’t assume there’s an easy, simplistic answer!
Father, I respect my friends who have spoken truth into the raging current of political discourse. I respect those who are passionately contending for a particular moral or justice issue. I respect those who have not engaged. But we need help with this. Each of us has a voice and we need to know when and how to use it. Help! Please!