THE SERVANT GENERAL
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
AND THEY TOOK OFFENSE AT HIM
The life of a prophet is fraught with hardships and trials.
This is not just due to their usual ascetic lifestyle, but
more because of the antagonism and persecution they suffer
at the hands of those they address prophetic messages to.
people can see that a prophet does have special gifts. In
the case of Jesus, that greatest of prophets, “They
were astonished and said, ‘Where did this man get such
wisdom and mighty deeds?’” (Mt 13:54b). But rather
than honor him, listen humbly to him, and respond positively
to what he says, “they took offense at him.” (Mt
gives one reason for such a reaction. “A prophet is
not without honor except in his native place and in his own
house.” (Mt 13:57b). Why is that? Because in truth a
prophet is an ordinary man (except Jesus), is not perfect,
and may even have many faults. People who know him, live with
him and work with him are aware of all these. “Is he
not the carpenter’s son? ... Are not his sisters all
with us?” (Mt 13:55a,56a).
more basic reason is that people simply do not like what they
hear. The prophet speaks God’s word, nothing more, nothing
less. “Whatever I command you, tell them, and hold nothing
back.” (Jer 26:2b). Some leaders want to be nice, to
downplay their correction, to couch harsh words with honey,
so as not to offend. But God has a specific purpose in sending
His prophet. “Perhaps they will listen and turn, all
of them from their evil way, so that I may repent of the evil
I plan to inflict upon them for their evil deeds.” (Jer
unfortunately, the reaction was negative. “When Jeremiah
finished speaking all that the Lord commanded him to speak
to all the people, then the priests, the prophets, and all
the people laid hold of him, crying, ‘You must die!’”
(Jer 26:8). Notice that everyone was against Jeremiah. Even
if many elders and brethren do not agree with what the prophetic
leader says, it does not mean they are right. Indeed oftentimes
God’s people can be blind, hard-hearted, hard of hearing,
not open to new creative initiatives of the Spirit, not wanting
their comfort zones invaded.
reaction can be violent, verbally as well as physically. But
they have no just cause for their posture. David lamented
“those who hate me without cause” (Ps 69:5b) and
“my enemies without reason.” (Ps 69:5d). Even
as the prophetic leader patiently explains what God wants
done, they persist in their unbelief and hardness of heart.
Such is the life of a prophet. Such life, with all its hardships,
is God’s blessing upon him. It is unfortunate though
that God’s people may not realize His blessing upon
them, imparted through His prophet. But the prophet realizes
he is truly blessed in his afflictions. What is the proper
posture of a prophet?
prophet is first of all the very one aware of his shortcomings.
They often are reluctant to speak God’s word, because
they know how they themselves fall short (consider Moses,
Isaiah, Jeremiah). “God, you know my folly; my faults
are not hidden from you.” (Ps 69:6). Others need to
realize that a prophet does not speak as “holier than
thou” but simply obeys God, even in his imperfection.
the prophet holds God’s people in his heart. He does
not delight in chastising them, but desires only that they
change for the good, according to God’s will. “Let
those who wait in hope for you, Lord of hosts, not be shamed
because of me. Let those who seek you, God of Israel, not
be disgraced because of me.” (Ps 69:7).
the prophet knows he will be oppressed but obeys God anyway.
“For it is on your account I bear insult, that disgrace
covers my face.” (Ps 69:8). After all, he obeys the
God, Jesus, whom people spat on, scourged and crucified. The
prophet glories in the very cross of Christ.
the prophet knows Jesus came not for peace but for division,
and that his words, authentically from God, will cause division
between those who heed his words and those who do not. He
speaks boldly even to his most intimate circles--his family,
his fellow elders, his closest brethren. He begs God for those
closest to him, of course as well as others, to heed God’s
words spoken through him, but if not, he will accept the painful
consequences. “I have become an outcast to my kindred,
a stranger to my mother’s children.” (Ps 69:9).
the prophet has zeal for the Kingdom, and will do everything
in order to help establish God’s Kingdom on earth, including
the difficult and challenging call to mission. He knows such
passion will get him into trouble, as there are many brethren
content to sip their piña coladas at the Country Club.
“Because zeal for your house has consumed me, I am scorned
by those who scorn you.” (Ps 69:10). Many would not
want him to move ahead with such passion, to have such a grand
vision, to shake up the sleeping or weary warriors. Unfortunately
for those, they do not realize that when they reject or scorn
the prophet, they are actually rejecting and scorning God,
who has sent His prophet.
the prophet is humble, not proud, even as God is revealing
His mind and heart to him and using him as His mouthpiece.
“I humbled my spirit with fasting” (Ps 69:11a).
The prophet is simple, not flamboyant or extravagant, not
given to trappings of power or position, not worldly. “I
clothed myself in sackcloth” (Ps 69:11b). Of course
oftentimes such posture can invite scorn, including from servant
leaders who are more leaders than servants, because the prophet’s
stance is an indictment of their own. As such, “this
led only to scorn” (Ps 69:11b), “I became a byword
for them. Those who sit in the gate (i.e., elders) gossip
about me” (Ps 69:12b-13a).
the prophet puts his full trust in God. “But I will
pray to you, Lord, at a favorable time. God, in your abundant
kindness, answer me with your sure deliverance.” (Ps
69:14). He might be tempted to tone down his words (he will
be told by people to do so), he might be tempted to back off
and not cause trouble, but in the end he will obey God, and
look only to God’s kindness and deliverance.
If a prophet is authentically of God, if what he says is from
God, if God has sent him for the purpose of bringing His people
back to Himself (from veering away) or guiding them in the
way they are to go (on mission), then such negative posture
becomes tragic for everyone. “And he did not work many
mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.”
(Mt 13:58). Indeed, if God’s people do not listen, if
they do not mend their ways, if they do not go in the way
God wants them to go, then God’s will for them will
not come to fruition. God will not be able to work in power
in and through them.