I graduated from college over 20 years ago now. As communication majors, one of the things we learned is that people respond to positive messages and are turned off by negative ones. This is what makes hearing the Old Testament prophets so challenging. I mean, talk about negative. Clearly by today's standards the prophets are not very effective communicators. These guys rant and rave. They don't sugarcoat anything. Which means that sometimes what they say is tough to swallow. This is true especially for the pre-exilic prophets, like Amos, for example. Have you ever listened to Amos?
"I hate, I despise your festivals and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies …. Take away from me the noise of your songs … and let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
Or there's the prophet Micah, who tells us that the Lord "shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Micah 4:3 NRS). Micah also says, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8 NRS).
God cares about social justice.
Do you see what I mean? These prophet guys don't beat around the bush. They lay it on the line, even at the risk of offending people. Of course, it's only fair to note that the prophets operated with a much different communication theory than ours today. They were not entrepreneurs in the free market of ideas, vying with competitors ...
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Heidi Husted Armstrong is an ordained Presbyterian pastor who has ministered in West Coast churches for more than two decades. She also serves as an editorial advisor for Christianity Today's Gifted for Leadership. Heidi and her husband, Rick, live in Tacoma, Washington.