Grow Pray Study (GPS) Week 5

The Road Narrows – Controversy from Religious Leaders

Up until now, this journey has been relatively free of incident. Here is this wandering preacher who was baptized, was tempted in the wilderness, called disciples, and did some teaching and healing. But here is where the journey takes an interesting and dangerous turn. Jesus started attacking the very people that were supposed to be working on behalf of God. Instead they were participating in systems of oppression that further harmed God’s people.

During this fifth week of Lent, we will be looking at scriptures that deal with the reality of speaking truth to power. Use this devotional time to consider all the opportunities we have to continue the work of Christ and speak out against injustice – no matter the consequences.

Monday – Luke 2:46-55

Mary’s song is something we generally see during Advent. Sometimes it is hard to see her message through the business of the Christmas season. While this song showcases a mother who is excited about the potential of her unborn son, it is also a message to those who benefit from power. “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones.” Look at how Mary uses the past tense to describe something that God WILL do. She is that confident. Do you have the same confidence in God’s power of redemption? If we sang this song today, who are the powerful among us? Who are the lowly?

Tuesday – Exodus 5:1-9

The immediate consequences of speaking to power are usually not pleasant. Moses and Aaron were sent from God to deliver a message to Pharaoh. Instead of listening to God, Pharaoh placed even more work on the Hebrews. Eventually the slaves were set free, but not without immediate, negative consequences. However, without the voices of Moses and Aaron the slaves may have never gained their freedom. Speaking to power has serious consequences, but so does silence. Where is God calling you to use your voice to free the oppressed?

Wednesday – Mark 11:15-19

Sometimes talking is not enough. Standing up to power through action is another way to resist evil. Jesus drove out those who were cheating the poor in the house of God. The leaders tried to look for ways to kill him, but they could not because the crowd was spellbound! Actions do not always speak louder than words, but Jesus got everyone’s attention with his demonstration at the Temple. When was a time when words were not enough to fight for justice? What are the lengths you would go to stand up for truth and justice?

Thursday – Psalm 82

While speaking out against systemic sin and calling the powerful to task are important components in our journey, enlisting God’s help is always a good idea. The psalmist is calling on God to administer justice to the weak and the orphan. Standing up for what is right is not an easy task. Having God in your corner is essential to doing the hard work of our faith. How often do you call on God’s help in the fight for justice and equality?

Friday – Matthew 23:23-39

Jesus has had it! No longer will he stand silent while people claiming to be speaking for God continue to harm God’s children. There are lots of insults and fury in this passage, but sometimes righteous anger is necessary in calling out injustice. However even after all the yelling and screaming, Jesus still wants to gather these people as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. Even when we speak truth to power, love and grace must accompany or we lose what we are fighting for. What are some ways that we can speak out against yet still pray for those who are causing harm?

Saturday – Sabbath Rest

This week we saw how hard it was to continue on this journey. Many fell away when the teachings became this difficult. VBS Jesus is easy to follow. Justice Jesus is much harder. There might even be times when we fall behind in this journey. Know that the invitation to follow is always extended no matter how far we fall behind. We serve a God of justice, but this same God is a God of love and mercy.

Suggested Daily Prayer

God of justice, who hears the cries of the afflicted and who listens to the sounds of the oppressed, give us strength. We need this strength to speak out against injustice. Give us the words to say when confronted with systems of power and the actions to back them up. In you there is truth, love, and life. Show us the best way to bring forth your Kingdom where all are treated as your children. Help us along this journey, we pray. Amen.