Martin Luther King, Jr. was much like a modern-day prophet. In all he said and did he kept asking people to close the distance between the values they espoused and their actual behavior. The terrible treatment King and his allies received during the civil rights movement in marches and demonstrations brought-out the awful gap between our American values of freedom, fairness, and tolerance and the reality that African-Americans really did not possess these in any manner close to the white population. King’s prophetic ministry forced many people to come face-to-face with the disparity between beliefs and behaviors.
The prophet Jeremiah knew all about such a gulf between expressed values and actual conduct. And it was a very large chasm. Like King, Jeremiah was imprisoned, had rocks thrown at him, and was jeered for his message of calling people to live up to God’s agenda for humanity. White supremacy, or at least white privilege, was taken for granted in much of America before King. In the same way, Israelite privilege was taken for granted in Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day. False prophets kept proclaiming Jewish supremacy and insisted that the Lord would be on their side of things. “But, I, the LORD, tell you that these prophets have never attended a meeting of my council in heaven or heard me speak.”
The spirit of the age simply accepted power, privilege, and pedigree as the norm that ought to always endure. But God thinks different. And he sends his prophets to call us back to true justice, righteousness, and peace for all persons – not just for some privileged people who take their freedom for granted. An exercise in healthy introspection would be to consider what our most cherished values are, and ask whether they are God’s values. If so, then are those values truly being expressed in our everyday actions and behaviors?
All-Seeing God, you know the true state of every heart and every people group. Do your work of making me holy in all I do and say so that the treasure of Christ’s salvation might be expressed through me in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.