Speaking Truth to Power

Hand Symbol

Institutions (governmental, political, social, religious, financial, etc.) demand compliance. Compliance is their definition of “truth.” To speak truth to power sometimes means refusing to speak (that is, refusing compliance). When the institutions of Empire (the Domination System) experience resistance, they turn to violence. Yeshua showed another way, the way of nonviolent resistence. The question that each one of us must face is “Will we follow Empire or Yeshua?

Mark 15:2-5, 15, 34          2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. …  15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified… 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice,  “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”  which means,  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

[Scripture quotation from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image: “Creative Commons The Power of a Symbol” by Artotem is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Desaturated from original]

Mark 15:2-5, 15, 34

The story is so familiar.
so romanticized,
so admixed with
the accounts by Matthew, Luke, and John
and the preaching of 20 century
that it is difficult
to separate fact from fiction
to appreciate the mythology
of the ubiquitous venture…

A man standing by and with the poor
over against the ruling powers
of government and the religious establishment
unwilling to mount a defense
where no defense will matter.

So he stands silent
and is found guilty.

He is found guilty
of speaking truth to power,
of sedition,
of ‘pissing off’ the establishment.

No wonder he had to die on behalf of us all
for we, too, stand outside the halls of power.

It seems strange for a Teaching Elder
who has served as a church bureaucrat
to be on the outside…

I was trained to lead a dying church,
educated in the ways that ‘used to be,’
taught to preach with eloquence
but not with truth.

Like a lamb I followed with little direction
in the path of least resistance.

So, what has happened to make a difference now
to loose the fetters
and open my mouth?

Why am I now willing
to be radical
in my thinking,
if not in my actions?

I have found a new language that has given me my voice
a new framework for old ideas
that has given me my thoughts.

I have deepened my friendship
with a soul brother
who has walked with me
through deepest darkness.

I have found light in the darkness
life in the midst of smoldering death;

I have found a Way*
and one who brings the messianic into the midst of daily life
abundant life into the midst of the ordinary
one who stood with the marginalized
one who stood with me and for me.

The Way* I found (or did it find me?)
has not changed the world but it has
changed me
transformed me
deconstructed and rebuilt me
with voice and intellect
with sentence and reason.

Is that enough?

Am I willing and able
to convey a coherent word
to speak truth to power,
to lay it on the line for those shackled
by the institutions of power and repression?

Am I willing to speak a truth…
am I willing to speak…
am I willing…
Am I?

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
thank you, God, for forsaking me
for leaving me with responsibility for myself
and respond-ability with others.

Now, as an adult,
it is time really to hear it
insisting, calling, inviting, nudging…


I am Barabbas
imprisoned with the rebels
voice-less and
even worse  —
a voice that babbled
a mind that speculated
old worn-out and withered truths.

Little did I know
 that seminary was the processing center
for the prison called “the religious establishment”
that I was formed to be a long robe
spouting “eternal truths”
that led people into captivity
and not freedom, not abundant life!

Maybe being on a cross in the presence of Yeshua*
is the one freeing action that leads to abundant living…
abundance that cannot be lived alone (released)
but must be shared with others on crosses.

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