This week’s gospel lesson (Mark 6:14-29) has had me thinking about choices and consequences. John the Baptist made the hard choice to be a truth teller and lost his head because of it. Herod Antipas made a silly promise at a dinner party and ended up having to deliver the head of John the Baptist on a platter in order to save face.
On the surface these situations may seem far removed from what most of us face in daily life, but I wonder if things are really all that different. If this is true, am I more like Herod or John the Baptist; am I a truth teller or someone caught up in all the trappings of power and prestige?
I suppose there’s a little of both characters in my constitution depending on the situation. I strive as a Minister to be a truth teller and to be fearless in my proclamation and living. Yet, there is still a lot of Herod in me. I am a daughter of privilege just by the fact that I am a white female living in the United Kingdom.
I have work, a wonderful place to live, plenty of good food, clean water, transportation, and more than enough clothes and possessions. I am wealthier than ninety-plus percent of all the world’s people.
To what ends would I go to “protect” that privilege? What would I really be willing to sacrifice in the name of justice and equity? Am I willing to speak truth in love–even if the truth exacts a high price from me personally or, worse yet, from those whom I love?
I think of the many brave men and women of every generation who have made hard choices and suffered the consequences for those choices, who chose justice over saving face and dishonour above honour.
Would I be willing to do likewise? I know what Jesus calls me to do. The gospel is clear about that, and it doesn’t take a Theological degree or a vocational call to figure it out.
The simple fact is that every single choice you or I make in life is either a choice for good or ill. Oh sure, the outcome and ripple effect may not be clear at the time, but do not be fooled; there is a price to be paid by someone, somewhere.
What we eat, what we buy, what we choose not to buy or consume, whether we speak out for right and truth or remain silent it all makes a difference. It kind of boggles my brain to ponder it all but ponder such things we must.
As Christians, people who bear the name of Christ, we must take seriously the command to love our neighbours as ourselves 24/7, not just when it is convenient or when someone is watching us.
Or in the words of Micah 6:8, “. . . and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
There is always a cost to being prophetic, even today – but that doesn’t mean we should avoid it. But approach with care, there is a danger, a risk, of self-righteousness – of assuming that we have got it right, that we have the answers, of comparing our supposed ‘innate goodness’ over and against those we might challenge. And that is why Jesus taught humility and love – so that our words and actions might always be proportionate, and our motives sincere and true.
And the key for us all is: who or what rules our motives and actions?
May Christ truly be the centre of who we are, and all we do and say.
Rev Nik Wooller
11th July 2021