Do you see yourself as someone who might, at times, articulate the priorities of God to the people around you? It seems that as far back as the 8th century BCE this was generally seen as a job for the professionals.
When Amos popped up in the ancient city of Samaria, and announced the impending destruction of the city because of their lack of care for the poor, it was assumed that he was a professional prophet. Amaziah the priest told Amos to go and peddle his miserable message somewhere else. But Amos replied, “I am not a prophet, nor was my father. In fact, I’m a herdsman and a part time pruner of fruit trees. It was God who called me away from the sheep and sent me here to deliver his message.”
Over the centuries, the business of religion has consistently professionalised priesthood and prophecy. The underlying assumption is that the stuff of God is complicated and potentially dangerous, and so is best left to the experts. God, however, does not appear to subscribe to this idea. Amos, in today’s terms, was a man with no formal qualifications who worked for the minimum wage on a zero-hours contract performing a low status task. Yet he was the man that God chose to speak up for the plight of the poor in Israel.
Jesus, with his band of fishermen, took a similar path. He himself certainly wasn’t a paid priest and, as far as we can tell, had no formal education.
In the 21st century, with declining Sunday attendance, Christian churches still opt for professional ministers. I am one myself, with my high-brow degree in theology. But God, it seems, is more likely to speak though someone like Amos than someone like me. Do you see yourself as someone who might, at times, articulate the priorities of God to the people around you?