Sunday, August 10, 2014

The prophet: An analyst, not just a prognosticator

I have to thank Sydney Harris, the late columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the person who inspired me to become a writer in the first place, for labeling my primary spiritual gift.

I never knew his spiritual leanings or even if he had any, but late in his career, I think in the early 1980s, he commented about prophets, especially in the Bible. Previously I had been taught that the prophet was a glorified fortune-teller, and in my theological heritage the prophet is non-existent. Upon reading his piece, however, I realized that he was talking about me.

The prophet, I now understand, does far more than “tell the future” — he or she has the ability to see where things are headed but based also upon what’s happened in the past. He or she gathers information, understands human nature and takes a great interest in history to detect patterns and thus will say, “If this … then that,” predicting what will happen with uncanny accuracy.

In other words, the prophet is essentially an analyst who, as the Rev. Charles Stanley once put it, “sees the big picture.”

People in authority in that day thus lived in terror of the real prophets because they gave it to people straight based on what they knew to be true. Not just believed — knew. In other words, the big shots feared being busted, which is why so many prophets died violent deaths when those with power were found out.

That hasn’t changed.

My primary interest, and the general theme of this blog, has been evangelical Christians’ involvement in the political realm. Since early 1980 I’ve been disturbed by our pursuit of political power at the expense of authentic Biblical faith, and I think it’s hurt us over the years — a different issue from simply trying to be a “voice.” In fact, too many of us in practice desire worship, something that God isn’t about to tolerate, and I’m convinced for that reason that our attempt to implement “biblical values” sabotages God’s Kingdom purposes.

I’ve lost some close friends over the years because of my willingness to “call out” those who I believe are acting contrary to the will of the Father, and I do mourn the end of those relationships. But I wouldn’t be faithful to the ministry that He set me apart for if I didn’t address such issues; besides, I always knew that being a follower of Jesus will cost something.

I wish I had the chance to tell Harris, who died in 1986, that he was my favorite writer. Anyway, understanding who I am is his legacy to me.

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