Blog & Pastor Letters

The Message and the Messenger: Some Lessons

07-04-2021Weekly Reflection

The work of a messenger is to communicate the message of a superior power. The ability to deliver the message can either win you friends or enemies. This is the reason why we need to differentiate between the message and the messenger. The messenger is only doing his work, while the message is meant to save or improve our conditions. Ezekiel was a messenger chosen to deliver messages to the people of Israel. The Lord said to him, “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.” He was condemned rather than praised for his work. Such is the sad tale that has followed the prophets of God down through the ages.

It’s hard for listeners of God’s message to decipher between the message and the messenger so much so that many of them suffered humiliation and even death. The conversion of Paul did not shield him from attacks, as his listeners knew who he was and how fanatical he was about Jewish customs. For him to defend the Christian faith with elaborate teachings drew the ire of his listeners. They stoned him and vilified him. He writes, “I am content with weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul did not allow his detractors to derail him from conveying the message of God in spite of personal attacks.

To open wide the picture, we need to return to the source of our Christian faith. Jesus came as the only begotten Son of God to redeem sinful mankind, but he was despised and rejected by his own people. The four gospels convey to us the sterling works of Jesus among a people that were thirsty for blood. It wasn’t a new thing for the people of Israel to attack the prophets.

The anger of the Israelites multiplied when they realized that Jesus did not match their criteria of a messiah. They anticipated a messiah who would free them from political slavery against the Romans and ensure self-determination for their nation. They fixed high hopes on Jesus. Since their criteria did not match their view of Jesus, they condemned him for such weak teachings such as “love thy neighbor and pray for thy enemies”. They wanted violence against the invaders. The people of Israel could not differentiate between the message and the messenger. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” The familiarity they shared with Jesus about his family and origins made them vilify the messenger and so they discarded the message of love and salvation that Jesus propagated.

The lessons for all of us are numerous when we reflect on the readings. For God to save us, he uses messengers that are familiar to us. Those we call messengers (prophets, visionaries, men and women of God, etc.) are not angels from heaven, but men and women appointed to undertake difficult divine tasks. David was a shepherd boy, yet he became king over Israel. Solomon was young, but God gave him wisdom to govern and nobody in human history has surpassed it. God can choose any person despite obvious human weaknesses to write a paragraph in salvation history. When God chooses any person for his work, he gives the required grace to accomplish that task.

Most often the messenger is vulnerable to attacks and this should be considered part of the risk of service. Somebody has to make the sacrifice to keep us informed about what God is saying without changing the message. The world needs a moral voice that risks everything to remind us that we need to pay attention to God. We need to return to the message that promises a life with God forever. For you to be saved from the perversity of the present generation, you need to remind yourself that God’s message is simple: listen to me and be saved or discard me and be lost forever. The messenger has good intentions. When you use the eyes of faith you will see beyond the present for the message is from a superior power. In this way, you will love the message and pray for the messenger.