Is a prophetic voice okay?
I recently heard a teacher say, “I’ve given up on trying to decide who’s right and who’s wrong (referring to different ways of approaching church and discipleship). We’re just walking different paths.” To some extent I can agree with that. None of us have it all together. Assuming I’m right about everything and everyone who disagrees is wrong is just arrogant. Plus, there is a need for different approaches to discipleship and church, the body of Christ should be diverse. But recently I’ve been considering how a prophetic voice fits into our current situation.
In the OT no one liked the prophets much. They liked the false prophets who said what they wanted to hear, but the real ones, who gave them the truth even when it was tough, were hated and persecuted. So God’s prophets don’t exactly have a history of acceptance–consider Jesus and the religious authorities. But all the true prophets have something in common–they loved God’s people. Their critiques were never delivered out of hatred or contempt, they were delivered with the hope that God’s people would change. I think this is really key.
There are some today who speak with a prophetic voice, but they seem to do it just to stick it to a church they perceive as outdated or obstinate. I don’t think that is the prophetic tradition. Disdain for the body of Christ, no matter what shape it’s in, is not of God. But I also don’t think we should just “give up on trying to decide who’s right and wrong.” It is true that it’s not about who’s right and wrong. But it is important how closely we line up with the truth of God. There are times when we’re right, times when we’re wrong, and times somewhere in between. Those who are gifted prophetically (and here I mean primarily speaking difficult truth for God, not speaking about the future) do need to point out the places where the church doesn’t line up with the way of Jesus. Not primarily to show the inadequacies or unfaithfulness of the church, but to call it back to faithfulness. That is thoroughly biblical and still very necessary.