Prophetic Voice of the Reconciler
There are many beautiful passages in the Bible that speak to my heart as a reconciler. The lives of Moses, Hadassah and Peter move me. I continue to marvel at the concept of the Imago Dei in Genesis and wonder about the sound of worship from all nations in heaven as spoken of in Revelations. But there is one passage of Scripture that truly guides my approach to reconciliation.
In 2 Samuel 11, we find King David, the imperfect man "after God's own heart". This passage tells the story about David's unjust use of power. Having been captivated by the beauty of a married woman, David sets in motion a series of deceptions which ultimately lead to adultery, rape, murder and a host of other sins. It is a plan that we imagine David thought he could get away with, but God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David about what he has done (2 Samuel 12).
When Nathan arrives, he begins by telling David a story, “...There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him (2 Samuel 12:4-6).”
The Bible records that David is so angered by the injustices in this story, that he orders that the perpetrator receive the death penalty immediately and that he pay four times the cost of the taken lamb. What David doesn't realize is that he is the perpetrator. "You are the man!" declares Nathan. (2 Samuel 12:7)
Nathan could have walked before the King, shaken his finger, and scolded David for what he had done. He could have repeated David's offenses slowly, voice dripping with loathing and judgment. Nathan makes a different choice. Instead, he goes before the king, and tells a story. He tells a story. The King is so moved, that he "burned with anger"(2 Samuel 12:5). David's own sense of injustice is awakened by Nathan's prophetic retelling of the misuse of power, and his response is simple, "I have sinned against the Lord." (2 Samuel 12:13)
I seek to be a reconciler like Nathan- a man who uses his prophetic voice to awaken from within a sense of injustice, anger and repentance. I am much less interested in judgement, shame and humiliation as paths toward moving my fellow man to racial reconciliation and the recognition of racial injustice.
For this reason I choose to focus on story when leading a training, class or workshop. I teach others how to listen to story, how to enter into another's story, how to feel emotion about a story without shutting down. I believe in the Gospel, a story about the good news. I believe all of our stories find redemption in this greater Story.
But I have been reminded that even this does not save me from being accused of causing division, picking at wounds and making people feel guilty. I seek only to awaken what is already within, to bring it to the forefront so that we can wrestle through it together. But for those who desire to skip healing and start "doing", for those who would rather become saviors than need one, for those who prefer celebration without suffering, I am still the enemy. For them, I am the source of the "bad" feelings, the creator of all racial divisions, the least qualified to lead on this issue- and the only way to stop me is to yell, interrupt, offend- and thats okay because I must be stopped. During these exchanges, as oozing privilege puddles around the floor, I must come to grips that its time to turn and shake it from my feet. The power of Story is just to overwhelming for some.
So, I continue to speak truth with power and grace, finding Nathan a trustworthy guide. May you, too, find within Scripture a prophetic voice that speaks to you, that guides you, that reminds you of who you are in Christ.