Prophetic Hope or Partisan Megaphone? Kenneth Tanner
If things get *actually* horrendous (I know things are not well) those who look to men and women of the cloth for comfort and direction and wisdom need to be able to trust you.
They will not be able to trust you—even if they cannot consciously perceive or articulate a lack of trust—if you have been a shrill and (more or less) unending megaphone for the left or right or whatever cause célèbre replaces Jesus Christ.
Trust is earned by consistently elevating the person of Jesus Christ (as much as the Spirit enables us in our weakness) in all our words and actions.
The church needs prophets but you cannot be a prophet when a prophet is needed when you have played the role of chicken little or the boy who cried wolf.
A besetting sin of our moment is a failure to imagine that things CAN be better than they are: in our communities, in our world, in our politics, in our care for one another and the earth, in our marriages, in all our vital relationships, in our churches, in our schools, in our corporations, on our farms and in our factories, in our hearts.
The Spirit that creates the world and resurrects Christ from the dead animates the Christian imagination, teaching us to trust that all things can indeed be made new, all things can be made well. Our prison system is a horrific witness that we have given up on the capacity of the Spirit to redeem and make well.
When we suppress this gospel imagination that things can be better than they are we deny the radical hope that is ours by the costly sacrificial love Christ demonstrates, achieved not only by the divine nature he shares with the Father and Spirit but by the new humanity he unveils. He invites all humanity to participate in this new creation with him.
The older I get the more I understand that nothing changes until we embrace this gift of imagination, acting upon the trust Christ instills in our minds and hearts.
I am not talking about the myth of progress, nor of the inevitability of the human spirit, nor of collective and concerted human action but of a sure and certain hope we own that Christ has reversed death; that by his Spirit working in us we can bring authentic healing, deliverance, freedom, justice, forgiveness, peace, and newness of life to all persons and to every square foot of this world.
Kenneth Tanner is pastor of Church of the Holy Redeemer in Rochester Hills, Michigan