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Archive for January 28th, 2010

Reluctant Prophets

Michelangelo's JeremiahIn considering the text for this Sunday (Jeremiah 1: 4-10) I wondered to myself, “Why are prophets so reluctant?”

Well, perhaps it’s the big scary job description.  Here God tells Jeremiah that his job will be to “to pluck up and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Who wouldn’t feel intimidated by such a job?

Perhaps prophets are also reluctant because so few are willing to travel down that prophetic road with them.  More than once I have heard a pastor tell me that God has never called upon them to preach a prophetic word….that he or she has been called to be “pastoral” not “prophetic.”  Wow!  I am always struck by such statements.  Because if we pastors are not willing to proclaim God’s prophetic Word how can we expect others to do so?  It can’t always be someone else’s calling to be the prophet.

I believe the root of the reluctance, though, stems from our feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.  “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy,” says Jeremiah.  To this excuse we probably would want to add:

I just don’t know enough, I’m not educated enough for this task.

I don’t have the time or the energy right now.

There are more qualified people to ask.

And perhaps the biggest, most honest excuse…I’m afraid, afraid, afraid.

But in spite of our reluctance, our excuses, our feelings of inadequacy, God still calls us, all of us, to a prophetic ministry in some way shape or form.  It’s okay to be reluctant.  That’s just honest.  It’s not okay, though, to allow our reluctance to rule our life of faith.

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