Thursday, June 18, 2015

Prophetic imagination

I stated in an earlier post that I thought the message at our church this past Sunday was especially inspiring and of interest to me. The speaker was Joe Johns, Director of Mission & Discipleship at Fellowship Missionary Church (which is actually just a few blocks from our house). He spoke on the topic of 'Prophetic Imagination.'

He used the book of Habakkuk for the basis of his teaching. Beginning with chapter 1:1-4...
How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

At first sight the prophet seems to be looking at things the way many of us still do today... There is no hope; it doesn't seem like God cares; the world appears to be going to hell...

But then he skips ahead to Hab. 2:14, where the prophet adds - "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." That's a lot of knowledge, and a whole lotta glory!

Skipping way ahead, during the closing prayer he finished with one of my favorite Bible passages, Habakkuk 3:17-18...
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

See, Habakkuk could still believe - in spite of his present circumstances - because he had prophetic imagination. As defined by Joe that is: "Refusing to believe that what is, is what will always be." Yes, it may be dark now, but it will not always be that way. Yes, our neighborhood may be dangerous, but it doesn't need to stay that way. Yes, your marriage may be troubled, but it can be different. Yes, the "Savior" may be dead, but...

Joe asked us to think about our lives as news headlines. He asked us to think about what is currently making the headlines in our life. In other words, what do we spend the bulk of our time doing, or thinking about, or stressing over? And... do the headlines of our life speak to God's glory, or are they giving glory to the anti-kingdom? For instance, the phrase, "It is what it is," gives glory to the anti-kingdom. It settles; it gives in; it gives up! Someone with prophetic imagination refuses to believe that the way things are now is the way they have to be (they have faith; they believe God).

He says the way God activates a prophetic imagination in us is through prayer. It can only come about by asking God to release that faith, hope and love, within us.

Anyway, there was a lot more and I didn't do a very good job of remembering it. I tend to not take very good notes on my phone. It was something I desperately needed reminding of though. It was also nice to hear someone talking about our area of town; about prayer walking; holding out hope that the Kingdom will break through one day, and is even now, little by little. I'm sure the message will be up on the "sermons" page one of these days.

Until then, I am praying that God will activate my prophetic imagination... A refusal to believe that the way things are is the way they have to be. I want to believe that. Lord, help my unbelief.