In preparation for the Renovare’ conference in San Antonio next Sunday, I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Jesus Way: A Conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way. As with everything I’ve read from Eugene Peterson, I love this book. This is the third book of the Spiritual Theology Series which includes other titles; Eat this Book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, and the latest…Tell it Slant.
The Jesus Way has beaten me up a bit with some of the thoughts that have been stirred in me. I’m still pondering them and letting the Spirit speak to me about some of the areas where I am guilty of trying to “shape” the Jesus Way into the jeff way. I hate it when I do that. I hate it even more when the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention…sigh.
I read a section that really stirred my soul today and I felt affirmed in my own calling. This following excerpt is from Chapter Five of the Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. Here he is speaking about the role of a Prophet and using the life of Elijah as a comparison example (pps 119-120):
The task of a prophet is to say the name God correctly, accurately and locally –Yahweh, God alive, God personal, God present. Here. Now. Elijah did that-magnificently. But there is more to the way of a prophet than God. There is also the neighbor.
One of the bad habits that we pick up early in our lives is separating things and people into secular and sacred. We assume that the secular is what we are more or less in charge of: our jobs, our time, our money, our opinions, our entertainment, our government, our house and land, our social relations. The sacred is what God has charge of: worship and the Bible, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honor God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say in everything else that goes on outside that space.
Prophets will have none of this. They hold that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives, the way we feel and act in the so-called privacy of our hearts and homes, the way we make our money and the way we spend it, the politics we embrace, the wars we fight, the catastrophes we endure, the people we hurt and the people we help. Nothing is hid from the scrutiny of God; nothing is exempt from the rule of God; nothing esc apes the purposes of Gd. The ground is holy; people are holy; words are holy: Holy, holy, holy.
Prophets make it difficult for us to evade God or make detours around God after we leave church or temple or synagogue. Prophets insist on receiving God and dealing with God in every nook and cranny of life. As it turns out, in most of those nooks and crannies there are neighbors. For the prophet, God is as real as the next-door neighbor; the neighbor is as real as God. The neighbor, in fact, gets equal – well, maybe not quite equal, but equally serious – billing with God. Elijah brings the same unrelenting intensity to the cause of Naboth as to Yahweh.
Praise God for His gift of the prophet to His people.