The prophets paint a picture of an alternative community in the midst of the dominant community. Think of Martin Luther King Jr. preaching, “I have a dream!” and you will have a sense of what the prophets offered Israel. Instead of a thousand tiny mirrors reflecting back the glory of God in the way they lived, the way they treated the poor and the disconnected, they way they loved God by loving the outcast, they had no time or room for reflection. Where Moses covered his face with a veil because of the glory, they veiled the glory of God by their indifference and idolatry.
Bad Israel. Bad. Bad.
But then Peter comes along and has to say this to you and me, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” Moses talked about a day when we’d all be prophets. Joel predicted it. Peter said that this is that. Short version: we are born to be an alternative community, a different story, a sign of what life can be like with God as King.
And the question that’s gnawing at my soul this evening is: why don’t we do it?
Do we offer an alternative community to poverty?
Do we offer an alternative community to violence?
Do we offer an alternative community to sickness?
Do we offer an alternative community to insecurity?
Do we offer a better story than the world is offering? Why do our leaders sound just like the leaders of the world? Why do we treat women in the church the way we do? How is that a better story? Why do we accept the fragmentation of community as normal and hide in our homes from each other? How is that a better story? Why do we have a class system in the church? Why do we insist that pastors deserve some privilege over and against anyone else in the church? How is this a better story? How is this a prophetic alternative?
In class, one of my friends and fellow modulites talked about how encouraged he was that churches in his city come together these days to do works of service in their community and to share resources for people in need. I'm glad they do and it is a hopeful sign. But it’s also a sad commentary that those details are actually remarkable. That that story isn't normal.
God, have mercy on us. Have mercy on me. Yahweh, may we burn these veils, may we tell an alternative story with our lives. May we become, once again, the prophetic community Jesus died for us to become and may our story oppose the dominant narrative until that story is too ashamed of itself to continue.