What I’m Thinking: Messengers

God has sent a number of people as messengers with, it must be said, not terribly popular messages over the years.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the first and third chapters of the Gospel of Luke, at least those portions that relate to John the Baptist. In the first chapter of John (Oops. Luke.) (Luke 1:68-79) we hear Zechariah’s Song, which he sang on the birth of his son John. In chapter three we hear John’s own preaching (Luke 3:1-6), or at least the beginning of it. He quoted the book of Isaiah: “In the wilderness prepare a highway for our God.”

Both sections make clear that John’s role is that of a messenger, a classic role in the history of the faith. There’ve been messengers of God going all the way back to Abraham. Indeed, the prophetic role within Israel was a valued and hallowed tradition – at least most of the time. The simple truth of the matter is that in much of the prophetic books that are in our Bible we hear about people who hear the messages of the prophets and promptly do something else.

The messengers of God quite frequently brought messages that particularly the wealthy and powerful did not want to hear. The messengers would cry out for justice; the wealthy and powerful would be more interested in maintaining their wealth and power. Indeed, we find the same in John. Now, our lectionary editors have stopped before we get to chapter three verse seven, which is where John calls his listeners “a brood of vipers.” You can see why that message might not have been terribly popular.

But indeed, I do believe that it is the content of the messages that has led us so often in the course of history to ignore or discount, even fear, even kill the messengers of God, people like Mahatma Gandhi, people like Martin Luther King, Jr. People like Malala (Yousafzai). People like Greta Thunberg.

Now those two young women are both, fortunately, alive, although Malala, of course, survived an assassination attempt, but each of them had brought a message that was not popular with a certain group of people, and each of them has experienced an enormous amount of resistance and indeed of personal attacks upon their character, upon their worth.

The messengers of God do not come to us to bring us word of things we already know. The messengers of God come to us to bring us word of things that we should have known and should have been doing. They come to us with correction; rarely with affirmation.

So listen to the messages about you, and if the message does work at your comfort, if the message does make you wonder if there are ways that you could be sharing more widely with your neighbors, well, that is likely to be a message of God. If the message is one that will be to the benefit of the people of the world and indeed of the world itself: that’s likely to be a message of God.

But if the message is one of self-aggrandizement, if the message is one that praises wealth and power, if the message is one that makes you greater than all others, that is not a message of God. Instead, listen to messengers like John or Malachi or Jeremiah or Jesus.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on November 29, 2021

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