I have an acquaintance who regularly refers to himself as “a prophetic voice for [his] generation.” Though I don’t know him well I can say from my encounters with him that I believe him to be a nice enough guy who is trying to do his best so this post isn’t about dogging on him. However, if I were to have a conversation with him I would question his use of the word “prophetic” because from what I have seen, heard, and read in the vast majority of his “prophetic” statements. They are almost always about how those outside of the Church are screwing up. He very rarely comes down on the church’s failure and I’ve never heard him name his own church’s failures. If you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you will see that prophets preach to the outsiders every now and then. Jonah is a pretty good example of this. God sent Jonah to preach to the Ninevehvites who, at least as far Jonah seems to have been concerned, were about as diametrical opposite the people of God as one could get. Interestingly the prophet Jonah didn’t want to speak prophetically to the Ninevehvites but when he finally gave into God and did preach to them the people of Nineveh responded in repentance and turned from their sin.
But the prophets’ normal role in the Bible isn’t pointing out the sin of non-believers. Instead they usually focused on saying “thus saith the Lord” to the people of God.
The majority of the prophets preached prophetically to the people of God. They shouted to the people of God “You know God saved you in the past and you promised to live a certain way in response. Have you forgotten? Now change your ways.” There are tons of examples in the Bible but my personal favorite is Amos. He was probably a migrant worker (he is described as having two separate agricultural jobs), someone of little power and influence. Yet God used Him to speak prophetically to the powerful of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who called themselves His people. Amos called out the sins of other nations as well but he spent the vast majority of his preaching pointing out the sin of those who claimed to be God’s people. That’s my problem with my acquaintance’s “prophetic voice” he is always preaching in the church about how bad the rest of the world is screwing up. Preaching to the church about how bad the world is just doesn’t seem very prophetic.
So here is my problem with how most Christians act in politics.
We tend to fight for one party to win by pointing out the failures of the other party and ignoring the failures of our own. This is true of everyone, Christian or not. I believe those of us who claim Jesus as our Lord have a much higher calling that none of the political parties follow very well. This means that while we can praise certain elements of a political party’s platform we still need to call for more. Christians within the Libertarian, Republican, Democratic, and other parties need to be be speaking prophetically to all the parties. These political parties should have a love/hate relationship with the church. They might love our votes but we should be acting in such a way that they feel like we are always asking for more changes in the areas of the party that don’t line up very well with Jesus.
To use poor political stereo types, those of us Christians who are Democrats should be constantly challenging the party on abortion and personal responsibility. Those of us Christians who are Republicans should be pushing the party concerning caring for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46) and war. Those of us Christians who are Libertarian should push the party to care for people other than just ourselves. Finally, those of us who are independent in our mindset should be a royal pain in the butt to everyone. :) I know these are very broad generalizations and in many ways inaccurate but hopefully they help to illustrate the point I am trying to make. We Christians need to speak prophetically to the political parties. Speaking in such a manner within the political process means we don’t let our own political parties “off the hook” just because we agree with them a little more than the other parties.