Speaking Truth To Power
In the movie, A Few Good Men, the climactic final court scene unfolds between Col. Nathan Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson) and Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise). Lt. Kaffee knows the only way for his client to stand a chance is if he can bait Col. Jessep into confessing the truth.
Lt. Kaffee: “I want the truth!”
Col. Jessep: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Col. Jessep: “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? … You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”
We all would claim to want the truth, but our lives reveal that all too often many of us are quite content to not know the truth. Do you really want to know the conditions of how your food was raised or would you rather just enjoy your meal in peace? Would you really like to know what your significant other candidly thinks of your appearance? If you spent extended time with one of your heroes, then do you think you would be as enamored with who they really are?
One description of a biblical prophet is a person who “speaks truth to power.” We see this when Moses stands up to Pharaoh. We see this when Nathan confronts King David in his sin. We see it yet again when Elijah calls out King Ahab for leading the nation into idolatry. It’s all over both the Old and New Testaments.
In chapter sixteen of the Gospel of John, Jesus shares with his followers how the Spirit of God will continue to be God’s Advocate in our lives. Curiously, Jesus even indicates that there is much more he’d like to share with his followers, but they, “can’t handle it now” (16:12, CEB). Jesus has much more he’d like to have shared with his followers, but they weren’t ready or able to bear it yet.
When I first read those words, I immediately asked myself: What might Jesus want to share with me that I’m not ready for yet?
How was my stubbornness, inattentiveness, bitterness, and selfishness made me unreceptive to the truth of God’s Spirit?
So many times I want to be used by God to speak God’s Truth to power outside of my life. There are definitely many times God wants us to do just that through our lives. However, I’m learning that the first place God always wants to speak truth to power is within the ‘power’ I consciously and unconsciously give to my own self-centeredness.