There is much to say
As an avid reader of current events there is much to say about the gift of prophecy, and there has been much said about prophets over the last year, particularly if you follow politics in the USA. At the same time, I will self-disclose my position – try as I do, I cannot see the correlation between how the prophets operated in the Bible and how we see many ‘prophets’ operating today.
Prophets in the Bible
There are a lot of what we call ‘prophetic books’ in the Bible. The major and minor prophets, classified largely on how long the books are (if they’re long they’re major, and if they’re short they’re minor), and all the individual prophets we see throughout the meta-narrative of the biblical story all contribute to a significant contribution by those we call prophets.
The focus of their lives and their prophetic utterances seem to be almost entirely based around speaking into what they see in their world at that point, simply seeking to redirect people back towards God who have wandered away. They also ‘prophesy’ about what might happen to people if they don’t turn back towards God – which is fairly self-explanatory and while their words might seem harsh, they are just saying that there are consequences for their actions.
Of course, sprinkled throughout the prophetic literature are the prophecies that concern the arrival of a Messiah; those prophecies did end up to be fairly accurate!
Somewhere between the record of the prophets operating in the Bible and today, the function of prophets seems to have changed. Prophets today are predicting future events, using their voice to presume the appointment of presidents or some future political system. I struggle to the correlation between then and now and worry about the continued erosion in the perception of God’s people as a result.
Am I a prophet?
The last year has seen considerable upheaval in how we see the world. The uncertainly that COVID19 has brought to all aspects of our society has created an atmosphere of fear and in my opinion, over-realised anxiety about all manner of things. That’s not to say that COVID19 is not serious. It is. I’ve taken it seriously, but 12 months on I find myself in a country that lockdowns at a whim, costing the jobs of many and loading up debt levels for future generations to pay.
As a minister, from Day 1 of COVID19 I have reiterated that while everything around us might change, the presence and sovereignty of God does not change; he is the one person who is dependable and can be relied upon to give hope and security.
The messages that I have been repeating time-and-time again are the timeless truths of the psalmists and the ever-dependable story of the Gospel. In a nation that has been steadily turning its back towards God’s involvement in our lives, this old narrative is sounding more and more prophetic every time I talk about it.
So, am I a prophet?
We’re all prophets
I want to suggest that in these difficult times for our generation all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus have the power of prophecy in our hands. If we declare that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and if we make it a priority to follow the lead of the Spirit in our daily lives through the decisions we make, the words we speak and the attitudes we carry in our hearts, then we all have the ability, and in fact the responsibility, to follow the lead of the biblical prophets in seeking to turn people back to God who have wandered away.
So, yes, I am a prophet, and so are you.
Go forth and prophecy
One of the biggest lessons for the church over the last 12 months is how important it is for us to be able to pivot in how we are the church; the need to change our modes and methods of operating in response to new and different circumstances. The church is known for its deficiencies in these areas, and rightly so.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over this same period is how important it is to pivot. Modes and methods of being the church must change in response to the mountain of change happening around us.
But our message does not change, it never has, it never will, it’s timeless. As such the prophetic voice that declares Jesus as Messiah needs to continue to be heard. So I’m a prophet, and the chances are if you’re reading this, so are you.
So, let’s go forth and prophecy, together!
Grant Harris is a reformed banker who has been the Senior Pastor of Windsor Park Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand, for eleven years. Grant’s passionate about seeing people catch a glimpse of who they are in Christ and living out the difference that makes. He’s tried living according to the patterns of this world and found that those patterns came up short. He’s still a work-in-progress and always will be. You can contact Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.