The Heart of the Prophet
As we continue our series "Living Prophetically in Turbulent Times," we come to a subject of utmost importance: The heart of the prophet.
I think we have all known times when we heard someone say exactly the right words, yet with an edge . . . an attitude that was detached, condescending, or worse yet, condemning. I remember well a fellow who used to come to a church I pastored in Canada. He was convinced that we did not have an authentic encounter with the Lord unless people were terrified or shaken to their core. His God was A God of wrath.
To this guy, anyone speaking prophetically would have to look like Charleton Heston, and every message would be accompanied with plagues. Contrast this with the real Moses, who was always interceding for a rebellious people. "Spare them Lord. They are weak, Lord."
I remember attending a pastor's conference a number of years ago. The plenary speaker was a well-known preacher from our (Four Square) movement. I always knew him to be a forceful speaker who "laid it on the line." What I learned from him during that conference has stayed with me all these years. At a particularly poignant part of his message, he stopped and looked intently at his audience of preachers.
"Listen to me," he said. "If you are going to ever dare to tell people that they are in danger of going to Hell, you have better have tears in your eyes and love in your heart as you say it."
Whatever else you can say about Jeremiah, Isiah, Paul, or Moses . . . these were men who had a heart for people. It was love that drove them to say such hard things. It was love that caused them to so identify with those to whom they preached that often the message cost them their lives.
I know I'm not there yet, but I am certain that is where I should be. How about you?
Copyright 2004 by Jim Jenkins. All rights reserved.