I’m guest blogger today over at the Center for FaithJustice blog. Given an invitation to write about anything having to so with faith, justice or service, I chose to write about our call to be prophets and about the distinction between being a prophet and merely being a protester.
Here is an excerpt of my post.
Prophets have the ability to look beyond the world as it is and to see what it could be. John Neafsy (in A Sacred Voice is Calling) speaks of a prophetic imagination as one that enables us “to look beyond the world as it is to the world as is could be or should be” – to imagine what God’s kingdom on earth could look like.
That means, by definition, that prophets challenge the patterns of the world in which we live, which means something more than simply criticizing and tearing down. …
[P]rotesters do a good job of standing on the sidelines pointing out the problems, of telling us what is wrong. But they tend not to offer alternatives or solutions.
Pointing out what is wrong is not all that hard. When I was a high school debater, it didn’t take me long to realize that debating the negative side was always easier than debating the affirmative side. It is always easier to tear down than to build up.
That doesn’t mean protest is not useful. The Occupy Wall Street movement, for example, has valuably raised consciousness along several lines, notwithstanding criticism that it lacks a concrete game plan. We need people who point to what is wrong. But protest alone is never enough.
What the world needs – desperately – is people who can point the way to a new reality, to point us toward another future.
That is our call as Christians – to be prophets, not just protesters. Our call is not merely to stand out in the square railing against the world as it exists, but to transform the world into the kingdom of God.
You can read the entirety of my post on the Center for FaithJustice blog here. My invitation is that you sit with the question: am I a prophet or a protester? As I say in the post, my guess is that we are all, at least sometimes, protesters. That means it would be a worthwhile exercise to reflect on the question: in those times when I’ve been a protester, how might I have taken the next step and been a prophet? How do I move from the easier task to the harder one?
The simple definition I have used in ministry for a prophet is one who brings God to the people; conversely, a priest is one who brings the people before God. Simple, but I believe it works.
A quote from your recent post states:
What the world needs – desperately – is people who can point the way to a new reality, to point us toward another future…
My wife and I have often discussed the difference between reality and truth. She will often quip, “well that’s the truth!” My response, “no, it’s real, but not THE Truth” No, I’m not playing with words… THE Truth is the Word of God, it is Christ Himself (John 14:6, 1:14); reality is what surrounds us daily. Allow me to site an example of this, cancer is real, but it is not God’s Truth. Abortion is real, but not God’s Truth.
If I might… what we need is not one to point us toward a new reality, but one who can point us toward THE ETERNAL TRUTH! That is the “job description” of every believing Christian, it is the “go ye” message. It was never intended to be relegated to just the ordained, but to all who tabernacle His Spirit. One need not attend seminary to fulfill the above job description, it can be and is, as easy as Francis of Assisi once stated, “preach the gospel and when necessary use words.” shalom