Hey there, Relentless Students! I hope you are finding ways to be creative and not trouble. Starting today, Fridays will become a recap day for the teaching videos. So, on Fridays, we will take a break from our journey through the stories of the Bible and instead have a Devo that takes the information from the teaching videos a step deeper and more personal. The reason for this is two-fold: a) I don't want you to get burnt out with so much summary b) I'm hoping it makes a nice companion for the videos. With that in mind, these Devos will also be posted on the Church's website (spartabaptist.org) in the section titled "Pastors Blog" and then "Dakota Straub".
In Revelation 1:5 Jesus is referred to as a faithful witness. At its core, this is what it means to be a prophet. A prophet is someone who is a faithful witness. So, when we look at the Old Testament each prophet we read about fits into this category. They were witnesses to who God is and what God wanted to be said to His people. The prophets of old were called in order to turn the people of God back to Him; to help shift their focus from other gods back to the one true God. To accomplish this task they had three parts to accomplish: to bring in reality, guide through grief, and remind the people of hope.
As said above, one of the titles Jesus held was a prophet. This is because He accomplished the task that was set before the prophets. He brought reality to the people that had turned following God into legalistic bologna. He guided individuals through grief as they were made aware of sins and wrong ideologies. He reminded them of hope by completing the promises of God to send a messiah to save the people. Jesus was a faithful witness at His core. Through Him, we had our closest glimpse of God, seeing as Jesus was one with God. Now, how do we fit in?
We are called to be like Jesus. 1st John 2:4-6 says,
"Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." (ESV)
Throughout the New Testament, we see this concept of becoming more like Christ, being one with Christ, the same mindset of Christ. Thus, we are called to live like Christ, embracing His roles during our time here on earth. One of those roles is as a prophet. Our task is to be a modern-day prophet. To bring reality, to guide people through grief, and to remind people of hope. When talking about this role in particular it's important to remember a few things.
First, when bringing in reality we must be gracious. Don't point fingers, but simply facilitate a meaningful conversation around the topic so that people can hopefully see the answer themselves. It's about deconstructing ideologies built up to protect ourselves in some way and our task is to help people see the truth.
Second, everyone will experience grief in this process. No one has died necessarily, but there has been suffering caused to ourselves and usually others. Most times when we are bringing reality it's the reality of sin or selfish desire to avoid something. Thus, suffering has been caused in some fashion and as part of the prophetic task, we must help people confess their sins or take part in the uncomfortable truth they aren't facing.
Third, reminding people of hope is the piece of this task that can happen throughout. Our hope is always future-focused and as Christians, we have the ultimate future. Christ has overcome death and given us new life. He has taken the weight of our sins: past, present, and future. Through this, we have hope. When people are knocked down due to the crashing of their ideologies and are feeling the weight of the suffering, hope is the answer. Hope is what can take repentance and cause transformation.
Going through this with the students has also made an impact on me. You see, as we talked about the prophetic task before us, we talked about it in light of "how do we act as modern-day prophets?". In other words, it was about being the prophet. But as I was writing the teachings, God revealed to me my own failings. I wasn't dealing with the reality of my current situation. Being in quarantine had sent me into a state of anxiety and depression and I dismissed it. Reality is, this sucks and I need to hone up to the anger and anxiety that has been brought out by being stuck at home in my thoughts. Then, I was brought to a place where I brought this before God and felt gross that I allowed those emotions to start to overtake my actions. This is when I was reminded of the hope I have. That even though this situation sucks, it has caused amazing things to happen in our community. As Pastor Ben has shared on Facebook, people in our church are being very generous in this time of uncertainty. Past that, churches being moved to the online realm have given new ways for people to find God and we are seeing this make an impact.
Moral of the story, we are called to be prophets or faithful witnesses. We do this by showing people the reality of who God is and what our situations are, by guiding people through their grief and dealing with their suffering, and finally, we remind them of the hope we have through Jesus.