Be Prepared Part 5:
On Sunday 2nd October at our morning service, we continued our series 'Be Prepared'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
Have you ever had a dilemma about speaking out about an injustice or challenging an untruth? Perhaps you overhear a casual racist remark from a friend or acquaintance, or see someone being picked on or bullied.
It can seem out of fashion these days to get involved and speak up – we live in a “tolerant” society where the accepted approach is “you believe and do what you like and I’ll believe and do what I like and we’ll rub along fine if we just don’t mention those unmentionable things – live and let live!
However, “tolerance” can be a trap – “live and let live” may mean live and let die. When we say “You’re entitled to your opinion” is that always right? Entitlement means having the rights to something. Was Hitler entitled to his opinion?
Do we mean legal entitlement, social entitlement or moral entitlement?
Legal entitlement means you can do it and not break the law. Social entitlement means you can do it and not be ostracised, we can still be friends. Moral entitlement is objective and absolute – something is either right or wrong regardless of law and societal norms. A point for non-believers to consider is this: where does objective truth and justice come from, if not from God? If you agree that there IS such a thing as objective (absolute, regardless of opinion) right and wrong then you may wonder where that comes from… if not from God.
Hitler is an extreme example, but we come across examples of legally and socially acceptable un-truths and injustice all the time. Just look at politics or the papers or closer to home in and around our homes, workplace and town.
It’s much easier not to speak out and have a quiet life! But:
• Some people can’t speak out for themselves
• Some people can’t secure justice for themselves
• Some don’t even know or recognise they’re being wronged.
• Some won’t consider – or want to admit – to their own wrongdoing
• Lots fall short of the standards they know to be right
It requires courage and wisdom to speak out – we might think “what if they take offence and I get it in the neck?”
Sometimes we have to speak out, sometimes God calls his people to speak out against injustice and wrong behaviour. Where do we find that wisdom and make sure that our motivations are right?
There’s a great example in the Old Testament part of the bible called 2 Samuel. If you read it you will find a story about how the King of Israel and Judah does something terrible and God sends a man called Nathan to confront him about it.
You can read about what David did in 2 Samuel chapter 11 by clicking here, and about the way Nathan tackled him on it in chapter 12 by clicking here.
You can see from the story how Nathan confronts David, but he does so gently and helpfully.
Nathan breaks through David’s detachment and fear by using a simple story David is convicted by the story and changes his behaviour. Nathan is God’s person in this moment in the story, God wants to get David back on track and speaks to him through Nathan. Nathan has to take a huge risk in confronting David – he does it gently to begin with but ends up saying “you are that man”
For whom or into what situations might you need to be a mouthpiece for truth and justice?
Have you prayed, thought and sought wise counsel about it? Don’t underestimate the value of each! Pray every day about all kinds of things. Think, reflect, go through different approaches in your mind (what’s the best possible outcome – what am I shooting for?, who’s involved, what are they like, what’s the best approach to get the desired outcome?)
Wise friends can give you different angles on things and may have experience.
Speaking out about truth and justice needs wisdom and a right motivation – it’s easy to speak out of anger or resentment or self-interest. Do that and you may get the opposite result – entrench people in their wrong mentality.
We need to make sure our motivation is correct and in tune with the heart of God and we need to ask God for wisdom (like he gave to Nathan) to know how to gently but firmly speak out.
Like many things, we can start with ourselves – truthfulness and justice in our own lives. Speaking the truth in love rather than just nodding and agreeing so as not to offend and to appear “tolerant”.
Different styles can be helpful – e.g. forthright and diplomatic. We can lean naturally to one or the other. My tip is to keep your eyes on the prize and adopt the approach that gets the best result for your cause – but always being truthful and just.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group
1 What are some of the injustices you have come across recently? How might you help?
2 What hard truths might God want you to take up with someone? Is there anything in your own life you need to face up to?
3 Can you handle the truth about your own wrongdoings? Will you hold yourself to account or do you have a friend you talk to and challenge each other on such things?
4 How personally involved are you in giving and serving at EBC to help address some of the injustices around us (poverty, homelessness, loneliness etc)?
5 If you are a regular attender and not yet a member, are you willing to commit to membership and if not, why not? If you are a member, are your words and actions truly reflecting your commitment or do you need to face some hard truths yourself?
6 Think of some difficult situations where you might find yourself facing an injustice or untruth. What to do? Think ahead about scenarios and how you might best deal with them so that you can “be prepared” to be a mouthpiece for God’s truth and justice.