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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Prophetic Call


Eric Metaxas spoke in Charleston on January 15th and 16th.  He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.  He also has written three other books, including Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, also a New York Times bestseller, but in his two lectures he focused on Bonhoeffer.
As Metaxas spoke about the incredible life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he described Bonhoeffer's insistence that the church needed to listen for and to obey the voice of our Lord in order to respond to the challenges posed by Hitler and the Nazis.  It was precisely Bonhoeffer's ability to hear the Word of God that enabled him to have such a prophetic role, one that ultimately led to his execution.    

Metaxas appreciates the witness to Jesus Christ of men and women who have lived in a way that was shaped and guided by their faith with courage and conviction.  In his book on William Wilberforce, Metaxas shares the story of how Wilberforce's faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ led him to work so tirelessly for decades to end the slave trade in the British Empire.  

The day of the second lecture by Metaxas was January 16, the day we celebrate the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I found it ironic that Dr. King was not mentioned during the gathering.  No one asked a question or connected the witnesses of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer with that of King.  We missed an opportunity.  

But more than that, we also missed an opportunity to reflect together on the identify and voice of God's prophets today and the ways in which we might hear and respond to God's call.  Instead, the conversation shifted to the ways in which Christians can engage culture.  Certainly, the prophetic role of the church is one way, but unfortunately that was not the focus of the conversation.  Was this just another opportunity missed, or perhaps something deeper?  Perhaps our conversation bore witness to the difficulty we have in hearing God's prophetic voice, especially when God calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
Who are God's prophets today?  In what ways are they calling us to obey the Word of God, Jesus Christ? 

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