Who is a prophet? Is it someone who wanders in the wilderness and eats locusts? Is it someone who parts an ocean or sees visions of heaven? Sometimes.
At the core, a prophet is someone who sees another reality – God’s reality. This person is so at one with the Lord that His words become theirs. A prophet looks straight in the face of a circumstance the world sees one way, and dares to see it differently.
I want to ask you a couple questions, though. Do you see yourself as a prophet? Do you desire to be one? First, take a look at 1 Corinthians 14:1-5.
Prophets vs. Dreamers
I will tell you the key difference between a prophet and a dreamer: the prophet’s vision always comes true. It may take a week or it may take hundreds of years, but the authority of the vision depends on the authority of the author. The prophet’s vision is not from man, but of God.
Prophecy takes many forms. A key characteristic is that it “builds up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:4, ESV). The prophet “speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3, ESV). “Upbuilding” may not always be an easy thing to do. It may require speaking things that others don’t want to hear. It may even resemble some of the Old Testament prophets who spoke of eventual defeat and destruction when others were seeing only prosperity in Israel’s future.
They dared to tell the truth of God when others were selling false comfort. In modern times, it may take the encouraging form of looking at inner-city Detroit or Philadelphia and seeing community gardens, home churches, and children playing safely in the streets where most see only hopelessness. The purpose of the prophet is to seek the dreams of God, claim His reality, and help lead the church in bringing it to pass.
He Pours Out His Spirit
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17, NIV)
What an incredible promise to all of us. How thirsty we are for true prophets in these days. We desperately need brothers and sisters who absolutely refuse to embrace the reality of anyone else but God, who will not rest until they see the Kingdom come right where they are. We need people who will look out over Canaan and say along with Caleb that the land can certainly be taken, regardless of whatever obstacles there may be.
It’s so life-altering, community-renewing, and world-changing when we in the church dare to dream His dreams, because they will all come true! As we grow in oneness with Christ and as we walk in His Spirit more and more, our dreams and desires begin to change. It is truly a mysterious and wonderful thing. The things that make our hearts pound are not the things that made them pound before.
Someone who would have never moved to a poverty-stricken nation before now moves there and sees beauty and regeneration and works to make it happen. A dead local body of believers is awakened and led to repentance by a voice of truth. An entire generation of university students catches a far grander vision than the American Dream.
Our world is desperate for the voice of the prophet, of the one who hears the Spirit clearly above all other voices and leads other believers to hear His voice just as clearly. We need hope, we need vision, we need to be awakened from the mundane drudgery that is life without His revelation.
Whatever you believe your spiritual gifts are, talk with God and ask Him to reveal His dreams to you and to use you in building up the church and growing His Kingdom right where you are. He will always be faithful to pour out His Spirit on the thirsty soul, and, in turn, our thirsty world.
Becky Dobyns graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2011 and is currently studying chopsticks and charades in east Asia.