(Mark 6:16-29; Amos 7:7-15)
There are two ways in which you and I can be troublemakers. One way is by simply causing trouble – creating fear, spreading racism and bigotry, engaging in mass shooting, committing fraud or amassing wealth through ill-gotten gains. Creating trouble for oneself, one’s family and society by engaging in evil.
There is another way in which we are considered troublemakers in a different sense. If you lead an honest and truthful life, refusing to let wicked people go unopposed, unsettling their conscience, you are a troublemaker, because you bring trouble to their consciences. You are a troublemaker because you give no peace to a wicked person. You speak the truth, you stand up for justice and equality, no matter what, and people do not like it.
God’s troublemakers are those who speak truth to power and bring trouble on troublemakers. “Blessed are peacemakers,” so said Jesus. You can’t be a peacemaker without being a troublemaker. You have heard the saying, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” We are taught to be nice and not cause trouble, especially in church. The truth is, nice people seldom make history or bring about change.
As Christians, we stand on the prophetic tradition, a tradition with all kinds of trouble making radicals who made wicked kings, rulers and rich folks uncomfortable. The role of the Old Testament prophet was not foretelling, but forth telling, speaking truth as it is. That’s exactly what Amos did in the capital city of King Jeroboam. On hearing Amos, the chief priest declared, “The land cannot bear all his words.” Indeed, truth is hard to bear. One cannot not be troubled by a prophetic voice.
John the Baptist is considered one of the last prophets. He could not remain silent. He had to speak up against what he saw in his time as evil and immoral. He was a thorn in the flesh and heart of King Herod and Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he married. John stirred things up that others were afraid to do. And it cost him his life.
When there is any kind of discrimination and injustice, the church should be out there stirring things up, crying and demanding for justice and equality for all. The prophetic voice of the church is the voice of God in unjust society. It is the voice of God in unrighteous generation. It is much easier to smile and be nice than to confront someone for wrongdoing. Being a troublemaker is not easy or comfortable, but it’s a part of the Christian calling and discipleship. May God help us to be faithful and bold troublemakers when circumstance demands our unwavering witness.
Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church