A friend who has lived decades in Mexico shared an interesting worldview he has noticed there. The Mexican people hold civility in much higher regard that we in the United States do. They want you to be pleased and content – this is hospitality in their eyes – and so when asked, they will give you the answer that will make you the most pleased and content. This means that if you ask them directions to the nearest hotel, telling them that you have to get there quickly, they will give you directions with reassurance that you have plenty of time. The problem is that they will do this even if they have no idea where the hotel is. They will point you down the street and around the block, knowing that they calmed your frayed nerves. And when you get there and find out your hotel is twice as far in the opposite direction, you may start this rigmarole all over again.
When people ask me questions, I too want to give them an answer they will like. But my reasons are far more selfish – I want them to like me, to show my camaraderie, and to avoid their anger. But this is a problem, for the work of the prophet, a work we are all called to as the “priesthood of all believers” is seldom to bring good news. We have to bear truth even if it makes someone uncomfortable or even angry. And so we learn, and grow, and age into these encounters lovingly.
Whether Micah or the prophets of Revelation, we have to be prepared for a harsh if not deadly reception when we bring God’s message. Joy and hope and love and peace are all good and true, but God’s message is also Repent and confess and change and grow, and these messages may well be met with unease, anger, or even violence. “Blessed are you when people hate you for my sake, for so they treated the prophets of old.”