Saturday, June 23, 2007

Prophetic Compassion

Prophetic messages delivered by prophet-like people make us squirm.

We don't like "in your face" challenges, especially when they call us to task, suggest that we change and/or do things in a completely different way.

Recently, a note from SoJo mail, the list serve for Sojourners magazine and community, shared this quote with everyone:

"There is no dearth of Christian service today. But because much of it is service without prophetic compassion, it is powerless to bring about a radical change in individuals and society." Vishal Mangalwadi, quoted in "Cry Freedom", by Charles Ringma.

True statement.

Radical change forces us to work with compassion and imagination on systems, policies, processes, relationships and connections, rather than on individuals alone.

Compassion without prophetic heart is not so hard, but very limited and very much of and about the status quo.

Prophetic message without compassion is not very effective, and it gets heartless and angry and ends up being largely counterproductive.

Marry the two and you discover a powerful energy for producing change. Again, not so easy, at times very dangerous, but so full of hope.

"Prophetic compassion."

That's the ticket.



Anonymous said...

By prophetic, I assume the author (and you) mean "inspired by the voice of God"?

How does God command us to change the world? I don't mean Scriptural verses, necessarily. I mean what is the call of prophetic compassion, particularly as it relates to politics?

Would Jesus vote? Register others to vote? Register himself as a lobbyist?

Larry James said...

Good questions. I believe prophetic voices speak truth into spaces where it is not operating at maximum capacity. So, it is not necessarily "political" in the sense you describe, though it certainly can be. Prophetic speech today would include challenges about how a nation and individuals respond to the poor, the weak, the marginalized. Political action may be what we decide to do to respond and to repent. We may also begin to take individual action to move things along toward equity and the realiztion of truth and justice. Jesus certainly challenged those who followed him about these matters. We are in a unique position today in this democracy to craft, as a nation, a better place for everyone. Such action, given the dominate values at work in our culture today, is prophetic in my view.