Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prevailing Shouts - By Sammy Millar

One of my most memorable wedding gifts was the megaphone I was given by my church family. I say “I” was given, because, it really was for me, (and they did apologise to Brenton for it) apparently they just couldn’t resist … much to my delight. It was a bit of a joke … because anyone who knows me, knows the LAST thing I need is a megaphone. At our wedding, I tried to use the megaphone for my speech during the reception, but no one could take me seriously (no idea why) so I resorted to the microphone. The truth is I liked to be heard.

But no one could take me seriously (no idea why) so I resorted to the microphone. The truth is I liked to be heard.

Don’t we all?

Some of us find making ourselves heard a little easier than others.

One group in the bible, who didn’t struggle in making their voices heard, was the Jewish high priests and leaders at the trial of Jesus before Pilate.

 “Their shouts prevailed” Luke 23:23 (NIV)

These three words struck me when I read them a few months ago. It was like I was reading them for the first time, and it seemed as though God was SHOUTING them to me. “THEIR SHOUTS PREVAILED!!!” A number of personal questions came to mind.

“What am I shouting about?" 

“Where are my shouts prevailing?”

“Where is my voice being heard?”

I was incredibly challenged!

How did the shouts of the Jewish high priest and leaders prevail?

They were prepared. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” Matthew 26:3-4 (NIV) They were prepared. They had a plan in place, they’d had meetings, talked about it, rallied the troops and took it to the appropriate authorities to present their case.

They were persistent But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” Luke 23:5 (NIV)

The more opposition, or resistance they encountered from Pilate the louder they got, and the stronger they got. They didn’t let his opposition hold them back. They weren’t going to take no for an answer.

They were passionate. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.”Luke 23:10 They totally believed in what they were shouting about, they were dedicated and committed to it. They were fervent, the atmosphere must have been heated and intense.[1]

They were united. With one voice the crowd cried out, “Kill this man! Give Barabbas to us!” Luke 23:18  They had a united voice and there is power in unity.

The Jews had an effective group, with an effective strategy: preparation, passion, persistence, and unity so … their shouts prevailed.

BUT … while we can learn from their strategy, we have to acknowledge that their motive and purpose was tainted. They were shouting for injustice. They were shouting to have an innocent man killed, there was nothing honourable about that. Yes, they were passionate, they truly believed in what they were shouting for, (so much so that as Jesus hung on the Cross near death he prayed “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”) but their cause was lacking.
As followers of Jesus, our cause is justice, as was his. God is a God of justice, and injustice breaks his heart, Jesus has experienced it himself. He knows what it’s like.

When we shout, when we desire for our voices, our shouts to prevail, let them be for justice. We don’t have to look far before the injustices around us become apparent, the world is swimming in injustice; domestic violence, addictions, discrimination, inequality, child poverty, poverty to name a few. If you lack passion, and have a desire for justice pray to the Lord: “Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdoms cause.” But be warned, God will answer your prayer.

For those who can’t speak up, who haven’t discovered their voice yet, for those who struggle to make their voice heard, raise your voice on their behalf.

We shout for Justice! And we will prevail when we shout with preparation, passion, perseverance and unity.

There’s a megaphone inside all of us, a shout longing to prevail. Raise your voice.

Monday, September 23, 2013

“Break my heart for what breaks yours” - by Sammy Millar

One of my earliest memories of ‘fighting injustice’ was in high school. Our whole year had to sit a certain test in the space of a couple of days, but one class were able to sit the test a week later because their teacher had been away. I couldn’t believe that they had a whole extra week to study and prepare, while the rest of us had sat the test under the expected conditions. It seemed incredibly unfair.

So I started a petition.
I wrote a letter to the dean outlining the ‘injustice’, got a significant number of signatures and sent the letter. An assembly was called and the issue was ‘discussed’ and  … um … hmmm … I can’t remember what happened. The details are rather sketchy. Will the outcome echo into eternity … uuuurrrrr … nope!

It’s so easy to get up in arms about an issue that affects us directly. The passion stirs, emotions rise and we exert energy doing something about it, so that WE GET justice. Not so often do we get passionate and persevere for the justice of our neighbour living in poverty, the shoeless child who missed breakfast and goes to school with our son, the single mum missing out on significant child support because she’s on the benefit, the refugee who’s been taken advantage of by a kiwi who claims to have her ‘best interests’ at heart, I could go on …
These kind of situations haven’t always moved me, in fact many a time I’ve been blind and failed to see the injustices. I’d just shrug it off. In all honesty, I didn’t really care.

But as I read the bible I became increasingly aware that God has a heart for justice, the truth I ‘knew’ was starting to hit me in the face the reality that injustice breaks his heart and as his follower, and the question that resounded: “shouldn’t I be cut up over injustice too?”

A defining period was when I made some of the lyrics from Brooke Fraser's song “Hosanna” a regular prayer.

“Break my heart for what breaks yours

Everything I am for your Kingdoms cause”

And he answered. I started to care about the injustices faced by others. Outside of my own little world. Slowly but surely my heart was broken for the things that break my Lords. My heart breaks when I see people struggling through injustice, and I know, that as a follower of Christ, as I respond to his love for me part of that response involves joining him, imitating him in the fight for justice. In the words of the founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth, “I’ll fight to the very end!”

The challenge:

To make the fight for justice a priority in our lives

The prayer:

“Break my heart for what breaks yours

Everything I am for your Kingdoms cause”