"Shall I for fear of scoffs and frowns, refrain my tongue? Ah, no! I speak as one that must give an account at the awful bar of God"
Maria Stewart, Abolitionist in 1831
I was doing some research for a project that I am completing when I came across the amazing writings of Maria Stewart. Maria was born in 1803 into a Freed Black family in the northern U.S. While her life had its share of heartaches and setbacks, she went on to become an outspoken critic of slavery, advocate for Black empowerment, women's rights and preacher of the gospel. Her writing and speaking style is passionate and ferocious.
I think I am most inspired by her prophetic sense of call. She had every reason to be intimidated, yet spoke out publicly and boldly. She was a Black woman in the early nineteenth century who lived in a time with violence against women and people of color was common place, yet she confidently spoke to truth to power. She was able to do that because she experienced an authentic experience with God that inspired, motivated, called, and compelled her to speak the truth, humbly and lovingly.
The prophetic office of the church is a voice that seeks to bring truth to bear against systems of sin, injustice, and suffering. When you look at the Old Testament prophets, one of the signature features is that they were rarely popular. In fact, most prophets prophesied (forth telling as well as foretelling) against the religious establishment of the day. Rarely, were they endorsed and celebrated, but often jeered, mocked, neglected, and even tortured by the audiences to whom they were sent.
As seasons come and go, there is a temptation for cultural and pragmatic reason to silence the prophetic arms of the Church. We all want to get along. No one likes to be offensive, so we domesticate our words and change our targets, hoping to be seen as agents of cultural tolerance instead of cultural transformation.
Yet, you were born for such times. The role of the people of God is to be a credible witness to the Kingdom of God and that requires a prophetic presence in humanity. Not just in proclamation, but in demonstration as well.
I want to encourage you to speak God's truth lovingly and boldly, understanding that the lives and welfare of others are awaiting. It does not matter if others are tired of hearing the truth, laugh at you, belittle you, or sometimes the worst fate, just ignore you. What matters is that you are faithful to the truth and have faith enough to understand that you are a part of a movement that is greater than any one of us.
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor