Recently I had posted [on Facebook], “Have you ever stopped and realized most of the prophets and New Testament writers would not be welcomed speakers in many churches?” Understand, I’m not trying to be cute or sound clever. I’m being quite serious, and stating something I think many churches—including Evangelical leaders—should consider.
Do you think my statement is exaggerated? Really? Have you read Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Ezekiel lately? Each man blasted the religious people—especially the priests, shepherds, and “prophets” for their corrupt and deceitful practices, and for profaning God’s name, putting their own preferences and desires ahead of God’s. The prophets then turn and blast the national leaders for all their greed, corruption, and injustices. Would many preachers today, who are so concerned about numbers and offending persons, put up with such prophets, although clearly men of God?
Have you read from 1 and 2 Kings, the words and behaviors of prophets like Micaiah and Elijah? Micaiah was hated by a notoriously wicked king because he didn’t prophesy “good” for him. When Micaiah was summoned, he mockingly said all would go well, go and be victorious. The king, irritated by the mocking flattery, told the prophet to speak the truth. Indeed, Micaiah then spoke the truth and was imprisoned for it—yet, his haunting warnings to the king came to pass with precision. Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal as they danced and cut themselves, trying to get Baal to consume their sacrifices. Elijah mocked them, saying, “Maybe he’s sleeping or on a trip. Or maybe he’s relieving himself!” Was this tactful or gracious of behavior of either prophet? Yet, who’s going to say these weren’t men of God?
Have you read James or Jude recently? Both letters are brief, but loaded with dynamite. James doesn’t hold back punches as he speaks to the Christian community about faith, double-mindedness, partiality, the tongue, and worldly wisdom. He gets straight to the points, never sparing the feelings of his readers. Still, there should be no doubt about his love for them. Jude goes straight for the jugular when discussing the dangers and slyness of false teachers who creep into churches to teach “damnable heresies” of sensuality and licentiousness. Were these men arrogant and insensitive? Be careful how you answer, because God chose these two men to write letters to become a part of sacred Scripture.
And what about Brother Paul? He addresses numerous problems of sinful behaviors and false teachings in the churches. Then, in Galatians, he even mentions a time he had to confront Peter with hypocrisy to his face in front of everyone. If a man today had the heart of Paul, would he not be considered self-righteous and divisive?
A man of God is not determined by how pleasant his smile or how “nice” he is to others (“niceness” and kindness are not the same; “niceness” can be a result of cowardliness and false motives). Rather, a man of God will direct people to the Scriptures, to Christ and His atoning work, and to holy and loving conduct. Furthermore, genuine men of God will confront us with the truth and discomfort of our sins. Only by dealing with sin can we truly experience the hope God offers. Many don’t want to hear this anymore. This is not surprising. Yet, the Scriptures warn:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-3