Israel’s prophets would have been YouTube sensations. They weren’t the kind of people you invite to dinner parties. Isaiah walked around Jerusalem naked and barefoot for three years. Jeremiah hid his underwear under a rock. Ezekiel baked bread on cow dung, ate a scroll, and preached to a graveyard. Hosea married a prostitute and named their baby “unloved.” When Jonah’s preaching finally won over the congregation, he sat and sulked miserably outside of town.
The prophets of our time don’t seem nearly so strange, do they? Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Gandhi and Mother Teresa in India, the Dalai Lama in Tibet, Martin Luther King, Jr. in the U.S. – these people are revered, right? But that’s because we forget the early times when they were imprisoned or ridiculed or exiled or just ignored because of their weird choices and weirder ideas. These characters lived against the grain of their cultures and risked their lives because they challenged us.
So who will be the next prophets among us? I guarantee you that they look crazy now. The chief marker of “prophet-ability” is a profound willingness to be strange among us – to live in a new world that still looks alien in the present. To “have a dream” that no one else has yet and put up with the consequences of refusing to give up on it. Pleasers need not apply.
Let’s read Israel’s prophets, friends, so you and I can learn to recognize the crazy, brilliant prophets among us and, God forbid, to live out our own brand of holy folly as we anticipate a just future that only God knows.
Series Four: Prophet-ability
Click here to download a PDF of Chapter Four.
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