Something has concerned me. It has been taking place with increasing measure in the last year. I would call it, Prophetic Nationalism. This is the hijacking of the prophetic voice of the Church to promote the agenda of a nation – any nation. On the surface, this can look patriotic, but in the end, it creates confusion concerning the mission of the Church in culture.
The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines nationalism as, “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.” It is a way of thinking that does not understand the Kingdom mandate of God spoken by John that states “the kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord.” (Rev. 11:15) That mandate says all nations will yield to a higher calling than national preservation. That higher calling is where our words of prophetic promise should aim. In the heat of what some have called Culture Wars, the Church can lose sight of that larger picture. The manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth will require a greater and more dangerous loyalty than what is demanded by a nationalistic spirit.
This week, I read an insightful comment regarding the Apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 13 that we are to obey the governing authorities over us. It was the governing authority of his day – Rome – that executed Paul for his perceived disobedience. The one who called for obedience to Rome disobeyed Rome. At some point, Paul’s obedience to the authority of Rome stopped and he could no longer follow their dictates in lockstep obedience to the demands of a lesser kingdom. That point of departure cost him his head in martyrdom under the direction of Nero, the Roman ruler.
The disobedience of Paul from the nationalistic requirements of Rome is where some in the prophetic camp will find themselves in the coming days. The influence of group acceptance is powerful. It can mute our voice. We can go along with the majority-sounding prophetic voice for a while hoping things will change, but true prophetic voices will not be able to abide for long within that restriction feeling they must continue to go along with the status quo. This will be a real challenge to those who are known within the existing and established camps of prophets. We are coming to a moment similar to what happened with Paul when he could no longer obey. I am sure some in the church in Rome questioned Paul’s decision to disobey as will some in the Church question similar actions in our day. It takes courage and grace to navigate through the offense this kind of a decision will create.
The prophetic voice of the Church should always speak to something higher and beyond the challenges a culture is facing or the disagreements created by those challenges. Our prophetic voice should sound different than the clamor created by a confused culture and in some cases, a confused Church. Our voice should not sound the same as our favorite cable news channel talking head with religious-sounding prophetic labels attached to make our voice familiar and appealing to those trapped in the current level of cultural angst and despair. There is something more and beyond that God wants us to see and address. That is the place to which we are called speak with words of prophetic hope and promise.