Speaking Truth to Power
O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! Jeremiah 22:29
So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6
I hear the call to “hear the word of the Lord” as an urgent warning. I think of prophets confronting kings of the Old Testament. I imagine evangelists calling people to repent. O how we need this today! How we need a true prophet to speak truth to power. Whether it has to do with immigration issues, life issues, moral decency, or sexuality and chastity, God’s word desperately needs to be heard! “O land, land, land…” I can hear the dire call of Jeremiah, deeply desiring that the people hear and heed the word of God. This is an pleading cry for the people to repent.
I can recall having one of those “come to Jesus” moments. The comments were clear and direct. There was no confusion, beating around the bush, or oblique language involved. “This is what’s going on. This isn’t good. You must change.” That was when I was in college. I really did need to change. And I did.
Not everyone needs that kind of direct and overpowering communication. Some need the more gentle and kind word of exhortation. The mere hint of a need to repent will send them to their knees. The suggestion that there may be something worth reconsidering, or recalibrating is enough to get their attention.
Some people will not listen in any case. The soft and kind whisper is for them a pesky gnat flying around their head. It simply needs to be swatted away. The bold and direct call to repent is nothing but bothersome noise to be drowned out by the clamor of the world or the distractions of busy life.
Still God calls. His prophets, preachers, followers, missionaries, and evangelists speak in his behalf. As Paul says, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). These words reflect the earnest desire of God for us to be known by God, and to know him fully. God is constantly calling us to himself, and seeking to bring us to a better place of his kindness and grace than any place we can make for ourselves.
Perhaps there is someone in your life who needs to hear the truth of God in a strong and direct way. Perhaps you are yearning for a loved one to “get it” so that they become no longer their own worst enemy.
You may also be distressed by the behavior and actions of powerful people in your life. Whether it’s your boss, a teacher, or politician – local or national – you may feel the need to “speak truth to power.” That phrase is used to describe what Peter did when he was told not to speak anymore about Jesus. Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
If that is the case, do not neglect to speak truth also to the Highest Power. Don’t neglect to call on God in their behalf. When we speak truth to God, we will acknowledge our sin, but also speak our needs to him. Remember that God yearns for us to call on him, and to seek his guidance and grace. When we speak truth to love, we delight God – whether we are speaking to a politician, or to God himself.