Ezekiel 1 & 2
When I think about responding to God’s direction to “go and make disciples of all nations”, the last place I want to go is into a hostile community.
And yet this is exactly what God commands Ezekiel to do.
Israel is described as being rebellious. They know what God requires of them, but they flat out refuse. Instead, they partake in all sorts of immoral acts that God detests.
But God sees Ezekiel as one whom he can trust to deliver a message. And God tells Ezekiel to not be afraid; that whether or not Israel listens, Ezekiel needs to be bold and speak.
Have you ever had to deliver a difficult message to an individual or a group? You know what you have to say won’t be received well, but you still have to say something? Maybe it’s to a friend at school or work. Maybe you’re a supervisor and you have to correct your employee. Maybe it’s a family member who isn’t doing what they should be doing.
Holding others accountable for their actions can be very challenging, especially, when the others haven’t asked for you to do so. It’s even more stressful if you’re seen as the enemy.
So how do we go about entering a hostile environment to deliver a difficult message?
The first thing you can do is to pray. Confirm that it is indeed a message that God wants you to give. Pray that you’re given the words that God needs you to say. Pray that the recipient of the message will be soft-hearted.
Second, remember to be compassionate. This isn’t the same as “giving in”, but you do want to remind the recipient that you are there to help and support them.
Third, keep the message brief, to the point and honest.
The recipient will most likely not react well, so you will also want to acknowledge their frustrations, while helping them see a way forward.
Finally, remind the individual of God’s love for them. They can have forgiveness if they are willing to repent. If they are open to it, offer to pray with them.
There will undoubtedly be times when God asks us to have difficult conversations with others. Do not be afraid to speak the truth in love.