What does it mean to be prophetic?
First of all, I’d like to say what (in my opinion) prophecy and being prophetic are not!
Prophecy is not somehow magically looking into the future and seeing what’s going to happen…and prophets are not some kind of sideshow magicians who can do that. That’s a major misunderstanding of the role of the prophets.
Prophets are not people we like being around much of the time. Their words don’t usually align with our comfort zones. Instead they challenge us to leave those places where we are comfortable. They speak truth to power, whether that power is religious or political. They’re not polite. They’re blunt…sometimes to the point of rudeness.
It’s easy to look back at the biblical prophets and nod our heads, saying, “Right on! You tell it like it is!”
However, when it happens to us…in our time…we often respond in the way that Jesus scolded his people about. If it were up to us, we would silence them–and we often try to. Or we accuse them of being mentally disturbed or ill.
So why would anyone take on or accept that role? Because they feel called to it.
They see injustice…see the difference between what could be and what is…hear what we say we believe and how we live–or more often don’t live–those beliefs.
Prophets are usually not found in church…because more often than we would like to think, it’s “church” people who need to be called to accountability.
So who are the prophets we need to be listening to today? These are a few; there are others you might add:
- Greta Thurnburg, who calls us to care for our environment…
- Martin Luther King’s words are still prophetic and call us to repentance of our systemic racism…
- John Pavlovitz calls those of us who are followers of Jesus to live out what we say we believe…
- Nadia Bolz-Weber, a contemporary theologian whose words resonate with young people…
- D.S. Leiter and Roger Wolsey–writers of blogs (Assertive Christianity – Leiter and Kissing Fish – Wolsey) that also raise questions about what it means to be a follower of Jesus
We may not like to hear what the prophets are saying to us…but we need them to help us become who we have the potential of becoming.