THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
THE CALL TO BE PROPHETS
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
All authentic disciples of Jesus are called to participate
in the priestly, kingly and prophetic mission of Jesus. As
prophets in a general sense, they are witnesses to Christ,
by their holy lives and bold proclamation of the gospel. There
are also those who are called to a specific prophetic ministry,
those who are gifted with the charismatic gift of being a
prophet, which gift is second only to being an apostle (see
1 Cor 12:28).
prophets are those who speak God’s truth to His people,
as a way of showing them God’s way and/or bringing them
back from veering away from God’s way. In showing the
people God’s way, prophets often point to a radical
way of living Christ, that of self-denial, sacrifice, embrace
of the cross. In bringing people back to God’s way,
they speak straightforwardly about people’s sin, turning
away from God, hard-heartedness and even rebellion. As such,
you can see that prophets are not very popular. Prophets are
called, appointed and sent by God “to uproot and to
tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”
was warned by God that “Judah’s kings and princes,
its priests and the people of the land ... will fight against
you” (Jr 1:19a). Later in his life, Jeremiah was forced
into Egyptian exile. Then there is Jesus himself, the greatest
of prophets (of course he is more than a prophet as he is
God), who said, “no prophet is accepted in his own native
place.” (Lk 4:24). When he spoke of how God had favored
the gentiles rather than Israel (Lk 4:25-27), “the people
in the synagogue .... were all filled with fury.” (Lk
4:28). They rose up against Jesus and tried to throw him down
the hill (Lk 4:29).
are opposed because they challenge the status quo, they confront
people with their transgressions, they show them the authentic
Christian life that is opposed to their seeking comfort and
convenience, power and position, personal acclaim. They disturb
people who do not want to be disturbed. They challenge people
to give more and more of themselves, when these people have
already settled into their comfortable “Christian”
lives. As such, the lot of prophets is to be maligned, opposed,
ridiculed, ostracized, oppressed, persecuted. “I have
become a portent to many, .... my enemies speak against me;
they watch and plot against me.” (Ps 71:7a,10).
give up. Authentic prophets do not. They simply trust in God.
“In you, Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to
shame. In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me
and save me!” (Ps 71:1-2). They put their hope not in
human beings but only in Him. “You are my hope, Lord”
(Ps 71:5a). Such trust and hope in the God who sends His prophet
is well founded. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am
with you to deliver you” (Jr 1:8).
authentic prophet acts out of love for God, love for His people
and love for the mission of the Church. He understands that
he has been called and given a gift but that the gift is to
be exercised in love (1 Cor 13:2). Looking at just some of
the characteristics of love (1 Cor 13:4-7), the prophet has
to be patient (v.4), as it will take quite a bit of time,
effort and energy to get people along the truly right path.
The prophet “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices
with the truth.” (v.6). He does not practice false mercy,
but speaks the truth of God’s word, not wanting anyone
to remain in sin. The prophet “bears all things, ....
endures all things.” (v.7). As has been seen in the
lives of the Old Testament prophets, as well as modern-day
prophets, and certainly in the life of Jesus, there will be
a great deal of trials and opposition and persecution.
the end, the prophet may “fail” in bringing people
back to God and the narrow path of holiness and the cross.
“If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing”
(1 Cor 13:8b). But “love never fails.” (1 Cor
prophet simply obeys God’s call, no matter what. “I
will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; O God, I will
tell of your singular justice.” (Ps 71:16).