Wednesday, August 22
The prophetic edge
Scripture: Jeremiah 28-30, 1 John 3
False prophets were predicting an early return from Babylon for the Jewish exiles, and that they would bring back with them all the Temple treasures. In contrast, Jeremiah wrote a letter telling the exiles to settle in, build homes and families, because it would be 70 years before they returned.
Jeremiah’s message was extremely unpopular. It meant that virtually all those alive would die in captivity and never see their homeland again. It was also considered very unpatriotic (although Jeremiah loved his country deeply).
On the other hand, the false prophets’ message was very popular. They told people what they wanted to hear. They promised peace and prosperity and an early return. But it wasn’t true.
In 28:8-9, Jeremiah even says that prophets have always announced judgment, and those who announce peace are only recognized as true prophets if it comes to pass (although the same could be said for those who announce judgment). His point is that the true prophets’ message is rarely popular.
We are called to be truth tellers, even when the truth is unpopular. There is always a prophetic edge to the gospel proclamation, because God’s Kingdom is a counter-culture to every human culture. God’s Kingdom challenges every human kingdom and institution at some level.
If our gospel proclamation doesn’t challenge the prevailing culture, doesn’t question the status quo, doesn’t make some people uncomfortable, we may be conforming to the culture rather than proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom.
This encourages me to speak the truth even though some resist it, even though it offends some. It reminds me of the words of Jesus:
Luke 6:22–23 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Luke 6:26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Jesus affirms this idea that the prophets were unpopular and resisted, and the false prophets were popular because they said what people wanted to hear. Jesus calls us to speak the truth even when it’s not popular. The gospel comes with a prophetic edge.
Prayer: Lord, you know that I often care too much about being liked. Give me the courage to speak the truth even when it’s not popular, even if people don’t like it—and don’t like me.