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power – shelley west

In listening to podcast on fables the other day the conversation remade the word.

In my language it means “untrue”, “made up.” For those scholars fable became “a way of speaking truth to power.” A safe way for slaves and lower classes to speak against those who oppressed them. As their conversation carried on they compared the stories Aesop to Jesus’ parables and noted the similar challenge, while another noted that Jesus in his person and word was himself a fable – one who was the challenge of truth to power. Some of us may cringe at this comparison (I did); Jesus himself is not “untrue” nor “made up” but most definitely did “speak truth to power” – so by their own definition he was correct.

Jesus challenged the ideals and idols of the time – the rich and the rulers, the religion and its rituals. Challenging the accepted and demanding the status quo be reset to represent the virtues and attributes of Heaven’s kingdom on earth.

In our own wider church history two greats stand for me, both from recent history.

Bonhoeffer – the great German theologian who stood against the Nazi government and Martin Luther King Jnr – one of the great movers of the American Civil Rights movements.

While there are many to choose from these two had the place of the pulpit to speak. These two spoke not adjusting, nor compromising the scriptures – their call to Heaven’s kingdom on earth was not a misreading or manufactured manipulation of passage.

I wonder if we, as servants of the King, are willing and unafraid to speak truth to power in our message.  An article in the LA Times (excuse the North American context, I looked hard to find something from here) shows that ministers preach on issues of social justice about 5% of the time.

The powers are more subtle among us, they are not as easy to name as the Nazi government but are blatant in their regard for self-reliance and interest, bitterness, distrust and hate. Some even are held as up as something to achieve or are just “part of our culture.”

These “powers” for me show up in the things our news continues to report on. Things that are not His kingdom but are rampant among our nation.

  • Racism
  • Abuse ( domestic and against children)
  • Abject poverty
  • False idols (wealth, housing, security, family, sport, relationship – think the Bachelor and how much that dominated the news cycles at the time)

I know I have been unwilling to speak truth to power, feeling bound by unseen ties to stick to a middling line, avoiding the offence of personal choice (i.e. political leaning).

But I know it’s time for me to find His voice, and speak His truth to the powers and I’m relying on His power to do it well.

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