Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12
True prophets have a different bottom line than false ones, but that doesn’t make them any easier to recognize.
When I run across texts like these from Jeremiah and Luke, I’m always asking, “What kind of community does it take to raise prophets like Jeremiah and even Jesus?” Being a Baptist, I have few doubts about God calling prophets, preachers, missionaries and everyday Christians. The call of God tends to be very personal, but it is not private and does not come in a vacuum.
In the days before every district superintendent carried a cell phone, driving the charge conference circuit was a great opportunity to listen to the radio. My favorite station was NPR. More than once I found myself totally enthralled by a broadcast story. Sometimes I would pull into my own driveway but be unable to get out of the car because I was a prisoner of a story. I sat on the edge of my seat, my hand ready to turn the car key, unable to move. Maybe it was the story about the little boy caught in a moral dilemma: he needed to tell his mother the truth about a neighborhood crime, but could not betray a confidence. What would he do?
Those of us who have been trained to make rhetorical peace with the congregation marvel at the freedom of Jesus to preach over their heads, to wound in order to heal, to use their own beloved texts against them. How sly of the common lectionary to pair this linguistic assault by Jesus at Nazareth with Paul’s pretty words on love. Poor preachers. Sometimes we love our people in the name of Christ, enduring just about everything with them, and sometimes we love them by throwing the Book at them.
It’s been said that the lessons of history are never clear, and when they are they’re usually wrong.