The internationally known prophet asked for prayer after his meeting at the church I attended at the time. Some of us gathered around him and began praying. After a few minutes, a prophetic word crossed my mind.
“The calling of apostle will come upon you in the near future, but first, I see you pastoring a small church,” I said. “The Lord wants you to really understand people before he moves you into the apostolic calling. From the small church, you will walk into a world-wide apostolic ministry.”
Most believers would have been happy to receive an encouraging word like this, but not that particular man. This same prophet, who had taught us earlier in the evening about the love of God and about the importance of humility, rebuked me sharply.
“I spend lots of time in prayer,” he said. “So, don’t you think the Lord could speak prophetic words like that to me in my prayer time?” His eyes revealed his anger at me.
To be honest, I was shocked by his reaction. “Uh, well, uh, I guess so,” I answered.
“Then why do I need a prophetic word from you?” he asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know,” I answered, not knowing what else to say.
This eye-opening incident really happened to me sixteen years ago and it’s as alive in my memory banks today as if it just happened yesterday.
The crux of the matter was not whether the prophetic words were accurate or not, but rather, it was that I was not at the prophet’s spiritual level. I was a nobody. If I had been a Billy Graham, Rick Warren, David Yongi Cho or some other well-known international minister, he never would have spoken those words to me. Instead he would have said, “Thanks for the prophetic words. I’ll pray about them.”
Now, if you think this is a unique and seldom occurring event, I have news for you: it’s not! For most of the tradition church system, there is a hierarchy system set in place where only certain people are allowed to speak words of direction or correction to the ministers who lead (usually called the clergy) and the pew sitters (known as the lay people) have little voice in these matters.
But yet, when one of the original apostles, Peter, became a hypocrite in Antioch, the young apostle Paul had no problem handling the situation:
But when Peter came to Antioch, I had, to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (Galatians 2:11-13)
Do you think Peter was embarrassed? Probably. Do you think Peter wanted to lash out at Paul? Probably. This is usually how our flesh reacts to being rebuked, or at least, this is how mine reacts at the time. Then, what do you think Peter felt when he saw the above letter sent to the churches in Galatia and his name mentioned as a hypocrite? Once again, he was probably a little miffed, but did he hold a grudge against Paul?
And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16 NLT)
Peter, the man who had the revelation that Jesus was the Christ and who was chosen to accompany Jesus on the mountain when He was transfigured and talked to Moses and Elijah, was a humble man of God. He stayed small in his own eyes and was a seeker of truth.
The apostles are coming, not to be a part of the hierarchical system, but rather to blow it apart. Will the apostles rebuke the leaders of the traditional church system? Most likely, very little. But instead, the humility displayed by these soon-coming apostles will attract the long suffering pew sitters out of the traditional churches and into their royal priesthood callings. The captives will finally be set free.
The apostles are coming!
(To be continued in the future)