For a long time, I believed that a prophet was someone who could predict the future. They had lived way back when in Bible times, and whenever they spoke or prophesied they could be guaranteed to be chased, beaten, imprisoned, sawn in half and other nice things. (Resolution: never predict the future.)
For several years, I took extension classes taught by the pastors at our church in Houston, and it was in one of those classes I learned that my understanding of prophets was in serious error. A prophet might have the ability to see the future, if God allowed him that insight, but the real meaning of prophet was a speaker of strong words, and often words that most people know but hesitate to speak themselves for all kinds of reasons.
I was so distraught by my own words at the meeting that I resigned from the board a week later. That caused another uproar, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings.
The proposal depended upon the worship services temporarily being in the gym, the children’s and adult Sunday School classes moved to the old sanctuary building and then construction starting on the new sanctuary. The old building would eventually become the Christian education building. The church was so excited that it wanted to start the new construction immediately,
Because of the change in purpose, and the fact that there would be lots of children in the building, the local municipality sent an inspector to check and approve the old sanctuary. This was usually a formality, but the inspector found structural and foundation problems that no one could have seen behind walls and under carpeting and flooring. The problems were so severe that the inspector ordered the building condemned and closed until major repairs could be made or the building torn down and replaced.
The church couldn’t afford both the repairs and the new construction. And it couldn’t afford two new buildings. Had it unknowingly gone ahead with the construction of the new sanctuary, it would have been facing financial disaster.
I knew nothing about construction or buildings or repairs or financing. But I knew that this is what my reservations had been about. Others knew, too. A few thanked me (which I didn’t really want) but a few stayed angry. Relationships were damaged. I wasn’t sawn in half, but it felt like that sometimes.
“The highest love of God,” writes A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God, “is not intellectual, but spiritual. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are today overrun with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they?”
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading and discussing Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. To see more posts on this chapter, “Removing the Veil,” please visit Jason’s site, Connecting to Impact. Next week we will begin a discussion of chapter 4.