In modern life we tend to use the word prophet with a degree of caution- outside of industry. In media and communications etc its more acceptable to speak of someone like Steve Jobs as a prophet because of their entrepeneurship and vision (anyone ever think of Richard Branson like that?- after all, he has gone from selling records out of a phone box for an office to investing in commercial spaceflight…). Anyway, within church circles its a word that we use with great caution… because when we speak of someone as a prophet in that respect, it doesn’t just mean that they have vision and determination, but that their vision, and the reason for their commitment all stems from God- and so if we speak of them as a prophet, we ought to listen… if only we could understand…
Its much easier, and probably more honest to speak of someone or something as ‘prophetic’ ie, pointing towards God, moving towards God’s will. It allows a greater degree of frailty- I know I try to live my life in a way that is prophetic, but would be terrified by the idea that anyone thought I spoke as a prophet.
(as an aside- behind all of this lies a deep uncertainty about what it means to be a prophet, or what prophecy and all those other words mean. At the bottom line, a prophet of God is a person who speaks and shows others what God is saying, and if you look through the Bible and at the lives of other people in history who could have that label attached to them, its usually uncomfortable listening, because its calling people back to something they’ve left, or challenging them to stop a way of living that is wrong for those who call themselves the people of God- mind, a prophet speaks more often to the people of God (Jews or Christians depending on your Testament) than to others… just as in the same way its important not to offer a judgement on someone’s life if they don’t yet believe that God exists or is interested in them…)
Back to the point- its about listening. Prophets listened to God, and heard from God- in that order. If we’re wondering why God doesn’t speak to people we know, its probably more to do with whether those people are listening than whether God is speaking… There’s also something about how we expect to hear from God. The Bible contains examples of people hearing from God through Scripture, through things they saw in the world around them, through dreams, through strange meetings, pictures, an audible voice, even through the words of other people. So God can communicate in all sorts of ways. Today of course, those things still work and are still possible, along with a whole bunch of other things. Wondering what to pray for? Watch the news. Wondering who needs your support? take a quick look at who’s posting what on Facebook. Or what if God was to use modern technology to speak to us? Here, taken from my friend Brian Patterson’s great blog here, is one way that God might communicate with us today… and see also the link to a Twitter Bible at the bottom.
Here in text shorthand are the 10 commandments as they may appear on modern Moses’ mobile or cellphone.
BY JAMIE QUATRO
1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg’s
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.
M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
AND meanwhile Blogger Jana Riess has the whole Bible on Twitter. Check The Twible.
I guess the point is, don’t rule out anything, and be prepared to hear God’s voice in everything…. I watched Karate Kid the other night (the recent one with Jackie Chan), and the line ‘Kung Fu is everywhere’ stayed with me… Jackie Chan uses everything around him in a way that is unmatchable, and its beautiful to watch… that’s what faith should be like.