Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Modern Day Prophet

Most often, when people hear the word prophet, they think of a person who can mysteriously predict the future. It is no longer purely a Biblical term since people of all faiths (or non-faith) have come to be known as “prophets” based on their oracles of future events and impending judgment.
This is unfortunate since the role of the prophet was so critical to the Biblical story, and in my opinion, is still very important today. In fact, I suggest we need more prophets in our modern society! Since the term has been redefined over time, some who read this are already assuming that I have started my slide toward religious fanaticism. But hold on…it may not be what you think.
The Biblical prophet had a consistent role with the people of God. Most often, the job of the prophet was to convince the people that the way they lived was not consistent with God’s plan and provision for their life. Yet this was hard for the people to understand since they had adopted a slow and gradual decay in their spiritual lives such that their sin had become very normal and acceptable. It is like the frog in the boiling water story. They had no idea what danger they were in.
It could have been alliances with foreign armies, syncretistic worship of the Hebrew God along with foreign gods, corrupt leadership (both religious and political), or ritual religious practice with no heartfelt devotion. In any case, the drift had been slow enough that most people of God never realized what happened. When the leaders (including the priests) led the way, the people followed their trail of corruption.
Yet it was the prophet who called the people back to the way of the Lord. It was not uncommon to hear the judgment of God within the message of the prophet, but only because the people refused to admit to their sin and repent before the Lord. Their way of life apart from God had become very comfortable and socially acceptable. Oh sure, they still did sacrifices in Jerusalem or Dan or Bethel (whichever was most convenient). In fact, they would even compete at the altar to see who could offer the more extravagant sacrifice. There was often no shortage of religious routine (orthodoxy) but yet it was rare to see faith in action (orthopraxy).
As I look at our world today, I see the Old Testament relived. Subtle compromises over time accepted as the norm. Slight deviations that eventually lead to wide degrees of separation from what God has called His people to live. Plenty or orthodoxy in our world…very little orthopraxy.
We need more prophets. People of God to stand up and remind us what God has called us to. People who faithfully teach God’s Word so that we can judge our life by His standard and not our own false assumption of what seems right in our own eyes. Immorality, injustice, poverty, corruption of leadership…these are all realities of our present day. Leaders, both political and religious, have led our society into acceptable compromise. We often see the syncrestistic alliance of worldy values within our church culture. We turn a blind eye to poverty and stuff ourselves with pious knowledge.
Nothing new under the sun, just a repetition of things gone by and foreshadowing of things yet to come.
Somebody stand up and remind us, “This is not the way it is supposed to be!”
Now, I know that we live in a sin cursed world BUT God’s people have been set free from this curse and should therefore not be enslaved by its chains. Instead, we should do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. We should contrast with the way of the world, not blend in. We should ask ourselves, “Does our community of faith look different than the ways of the world?”
If not, hear the words of a prophet: “It should!”


  1. I think fear comes to mind considering the hypocrisy that the world views so many Christians. I know it has often been a factor in my own life, when I could easily have said something to someone, yet they have seen me living in sin. I remember how ineffective I felt around co-workers and they had seen me at my worse.

  2. Yes, I understand. So where is the balance? How do you think we should live authentic lives so that people don't view us as "perfect people" but yet not compromise the call to live a live that is worthy of our calling? What does this look like to you? Any examples from scripture?

  3. This is a challenging topic in that offering correction in the spirit of love is not normal for humans. What I mean is that in effor to correct someone, we have had to judge their actions to be off base. When we raise this issue with them, the automatic response is for them to feel defensive. The key is to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit...act when the Spirit leads, and let the spirit speak through us to our brother/sister.

    The manner in which this type of communication is conveyed is absolutely critical. Unless this process involves a loving hand and an offering of grace (as exampled by Christ) the outcome is likely to be less than desired. (Eph 4:1-6)

    Correctional communication is more likely to be received well if it is communicated from believer to believer. If communicated from believer to non-believer, it is likely to inflame the situation as the non-beliver is not held to the same standards. Unless God changes their heart...they never will be.

    A relationship of autheticity creates the opportunity to speak truth into each other's lives...superficial relationships do not create the same opportunity. (Eph 4:1-6)

    Truth should always be spoken, but there are times when the manner in which it is spoken or the heart of the speaker must be checked (Matthew 7:1-6; Phil 2:3-4). If you feel like it takes too much time to consult the Holy Spirit...you are probably one step ahead of Him...at least it happens that way for me.

    Scripture references:
    Matthew 7:1-6- on judging others
    Phil 2:3-4- warning of vain conceit
    Eph 4:1-6- unity in the body of Christ

  4. Good points Kerry. Although the non-beleiver may not admit to a universal standard, the truth is, the standard of God is applied to all men (Rom 1:18-32). The question is, do we have a role in bringing about this conviction. Obviously, the only meaningful conviction is the conviction of the Holy Spirit (as you indicated). And a very effective tool of the Spirit is the voice of His people (i.e. the prophet) who calls all men to repentence.
    Healthy authenticity in the context of the Christian community is always paired with the desire to be transformed into the image of Christ. It is a proclamation of "this is who I am but I don't want to stay that way." To the world we make the same proclamtion with the footnote that change of this magnitude is only possible through faith in Christ. Morality does not equal salvation. Sanctification is only possible as a Christian.
    Using the standard of God's word, we should call all men to repentence. For the unbeliever, it is faith in God so that transformaiton is possible. For the Christian, it is submission to the Spirit so that the transformation into Christlikeness continues.
    Either way, we need more people (myself included) who are willing to call people to a higher standard and then demonstrate what this looks like in thier own life (Phil 3:17).

  5. Matt 7:2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    So if the ones you trying to live with authentically do not understand the measures you are using for yourself and in also judging (read teaching) them is at times so far from their understanding, that they need to be treated with kid gloves? I realize that I am the one who is weak, when I see no change in them, I tend to revert to old/bad habits and cave and not stick to my guns. I haven't had the time I would like to spend on this because school started this week, but I look forward to the discussion tonight.

  6. I beleive the point of Matthew 7.2 is not instruction to avoid judgments all together. After all, 7.5 does speak of removing a speck from your brother's eye. Here the point seems to be more of the need to avoid the habit of condemning others while avoiding self examination. This seems to be our point thus far. We should live in authentic community which involves inspection witha desire of transformation. At the same time, we should call others to the same life of repentance and submission in honor of Christ who has the power to set us free.
    See you tonight.