A pre-awakening is moving across our nation. A slumbering Church is being roused. Pastors and leaders of movements are sensing the critical nature of this hour and are beginning to realize their leadership responsibilities may include speaking the truth in love to power. The threat of censure or shame no longer has the ability to silence their words.
Three names would be recognized as people whom the Spirit awakened to speak the truth in love in critical moments of history- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa. Each of these individuals faithfully served people under their care with a compassionate pastoral gift, yet critical moments in their lifetimes appeared that required more from them than acts of compassion or pastoral oversight. They became activists for good and spoke the truth in love to power when that kind of speech carried special jeopardy.
If you have studied history, you will know of Bonhoeffer’s activism in Nazi Germany and of King’s non-violent approach to social change in our nation. Bonhoeffer lived in a time when voices of opposition were not willing to listen. King’s time was a God-ordained moment in our history to move faith from within the walls of a local church, out into the streets marching for freedom before a national audience and eventually into the highest courts of the land to affirm freedom for all. Of these three, Mother Theresa surprised me the most.
On October 26, 1985, the diminutive frame of Mother Teresa stood behind the podium at the United Nations and spoke the truth in love in powerful and compassionate terms to the political representatives of the nations of the world. While she talked of peace and love between individuals and nations detailing what an active faith looks like when confronted with poverty and social inequity, she crossed a cultural line of expected silence and spoke about abortion.
“This is what is such a contradiction, and today I feel that abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace. We are afraid of nuclears because it is touching us, but we are not afraid, the mother is not afraid to commit that terrible murder. Even when God Himself speaks of that, He says, “even if mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand, you are precious to me, I love you.” These are God’s own words to you, to me, to that little unborn child.”
While devoting her life to the poor in the streets of Calcutta, her time to speak the truth in love in the public sphere came and she activated her faith before the world audience. The same was true for two pastors, Bonhoeffer and King. Our world continues to make changes for the good because of their voices.
The Lord is awakening faithful servants who have been working in the trenches of selfless service who would never think of themselves as someone who would speak to power. But of recent date, a burning passion has been delivered to them from decisions made in the Courts of Heaven. They have been awakened to see a new season of their calling. As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (3:1). For many, this is their time to rise, activate their faith in a new way, and speak the truth in love. We will live in a better world because of their courage and their willingness to engage those things that oppose the heart of God.