Whistle Blower

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 108; 150, Isaiah 51:9-16, Hebrews 11:8-16, John 7:14-31


The term “whistle-blower” is in the news a lot these days. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as: “a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity.” This phrase is used most often with journalists and informants. How one feels about whistle-blowers and their activities can depend very much on which side of the event one falls. For example, whistle-blowers who expose health care fraud to the government can earn quite a bit of money depending on how much is exposed and recovered. On the other hand, government employees who become whistle-blowers are often subject to the harassment and persecution the government prohibits in other entities. And then there are people who leak information for malicious reasons then try to shelter under the cover of whistle-blower.

Among his many roles, Jesus was a sort of whistle-blower. He frequently and publicly exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leadership. In first century Palestine, the religious leadership was the equivalent of the local government, though they operated within the constraints of their Roman occupation. His disregard for their authority as granted by Rome was also a direct affront to Rome. As in the case with many whistle-blowers, confronting his accusations would have led to confirming them. The retaliation against him began as a whisper campaign among the Pharisees, who plotted to kill him.

Whistle-blowers are never the only people who know corruption is occurring. They are simply the first – and often only – people with the courage to bring it to light. If we are to follow Christ, we also need to call out corruption and injustice – in our churches, workplaces, homes, and governments – when we know about it. There will probably be consequences and retaliation, but inauthentic relationships with God and one another is the much worse consequence of keeping silent.

Truth, even hard truth, is freeing. Deception requires increasing amounts of energy to maintain, and in the end leaves resources for little else. If telling the truth ostracizes us from one community, it joins us with the greater community of saints joined in the body of Christ.

Comfort: The truth sets your soul free.

Challenge: Speak truth to power.

Prayer: God of truth and love, give me the courage to be your witness. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever had the need or opportunity to come clean? How did it feel?

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