Not For Prophet


Today’s readings:
Psalms 34; 146, Jeremiah 2:1-13, 29-32, Romans 1:16-25, John 4:43-54

Popular culture, and even some corners of Christian culture, portray prophets as a breed of mysterious oracles revealing the future through puzzle-like symbols and coded language. Modern self-styled prophets are famous for predicting the end of the world, and infamous for batting zero while collecting millions. We lump this distorted image of prophets in with psychics, clairvoyants, and fortune tellers.

The Biblical prophet, however, was not on a road to popularity and wealth. Prophesying was dangerous work; some prophets paid with their lives for confronting a community that had lost its way to idols and injustice.

Prophets like Jeremiah used language and symbols that may need clarification today, but would have been familiar to their audience. Their ultimate goal was not to mystify and condemn, but to convict and save. The warning of a harsh future came with a promise: God loved his people too much to abandon them, and when once again the people learned to properly love him back there would be reconciliation. It was never about God leaving the people, but about the people leaving God.

Consider these words of the Lord delivered by Jeremiah:

          They have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
that can hold no water.

These words were about more than disobedience; they addressed how the people brought ruin upon themselves. When we substitute our own values and plans for those God has given us, they will ultimately fail us. Like cracked cisterns, they may seem to hold water for a while, but eventually we will find them to be empty and we will be desperate for the real thing.

Jesus also referred to himself as the living water. His message echoed the messages of the prophets who preceded him, and he knew “a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country.” When a prophet tells us what we don’t want to hear, it’s not time to get defensive: it’s time to seek hope through repentance. Christ’s message of radical justice and inclusion was most difficult for those who believed they had a lock on God and religion. When listening for prophetic voices, humility serves us well.

Comfort: God would rather forgive us than condemn us.

Challenge: We have to seek forgiveness before it can be granted.

Prayer: Merciful God, I will listen for your authentic voice. Teach me to hear it. Amen.

Discussion: When have you benefited from hearing something you didn’t want to?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll  have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

2 thoughts on “Not For Prophet

  1. Your discussion question reminded me of an event I was serving at. Previous to this event I had asked God what part of the body did He make me to be. He told me me I was a blood vessel both arteries and veins. I thought cool but kind of gross. My purpose was to take the blood of Jesus to all parts of the body. Then during this event I was volunteering at on both the prayer team and photographer I was sent for. When I went to the person who had called for me I thought it was for me to take a picture because when I walked up she was holding a child in her arms and it was what you would call a Kodak moment. So I took the shot but she waved me over and explained to me God had something to say to me. My response was one of dread worried that God was about to tell me to do something I did not want to do. This is what she told me, ‘God wants you to know that you are His butterfly taking pollen from one flower to another, Many have judged and criticized you but do not worry for you are doing the will of God.’ One thing she did not know was I was feeling prompted to change churches but I did not want to. My church at that time was wonderful and I was very happy where I was. Yet I knew there was a need for help in this other church. No matter how many times I had volunteered at my own church to serve I was never chosen. This other church was new and only a few members were willing to serve. Others were complaining because they wanted to serve in the more enjoyable and public ministries. Meanwhile the pastors wife was doing everything else including the children’s ministry by herself. Not being one who went to church only to sit and listen I spoke to the pastor’s wife and offered to help how ever they needed my help. She gratefully accepted and I changed church membership. It was good that it was on good terms but still very difficult, I learned to look at it like moving away from your family to start a new life. They are still family but I just had to move.
    Hope I didn’t ramble to much but your question hit home.

    Liked by 1 person

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