What is prophetic existence? How are we to comprehend and apply this perspectives and way of life as Christians?
First, it must be clear that this existence is something that concerns individual Christians, with those who have set their hearts to follow after Jesus Christ in true discipleship. In other words, it is an existence that results in discipleship reflecting Christlikeness or living lives patterned after the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man. He too had an earthly and human existence. When His disciples endeavour to live simply and effectively like Him, then prophetic existence becomes a reality.
There are three levels in prophetic existence. Firstly, it starts with the inner motive, the motive of the heart. The only motive for a prophetic existence is the love of GOD – God’s love in Christ towards the Christian and the Christian’s love for God. Secondly, it is worked out on the level of daily and ordinary life. It is WHOLESOME, not a separate entity all together – physically and spiritually. It has a direct connection with life in the flesh and blood. Thirdly, prophetic existence has a definite measure of effectiveness, which is both immediate and long term. It is an effective because it is a life that influences others and people around will respond to it – positively or negatively. The response, beginning with immediate situations, has far reaching consequences. The life of Christ Jesus showed evident of all three levels in the four gospels.
In short, the prophetic evidence is a TRANSFORMED life of an individual disciple, both spiritually and in a community. This life is made up of deeds, actions and experience generated from the knowledge of God in His Son and Saviour. These deeds, actions and experiences can be explained by words. Prophetic existence for all disciples of Jesus Christ is a costly business because their personalities are involved, their minds, emotions , will and bodies. It is costly to give themselves lifelong, like the son of Man himself.
Environment is a vital factor in a prophetic existence. This existence takes place here on Earth in a human society under time and space conditions. Jesus Christ lived in a historical period of time and in a given geographical location. This means that prophetic existence is related to the physical, social, domestic and secular life of a Christian in a given time and place. The practical details of life: eating, drinking, clothing, shelter, conducting daily chores, are included in the context. These facts of life are true. However, in the prophetic existence the stress is not on the mere fact of physical life but in the manner and the quality of the life that is lived.
Prophetic existence can be felt in its environment. Because this existence is lived out primarily and even exclusively to please God and to fulfill His purpose, its effect can be seen in human relationships and in society. The greatest evident, is the quality of life one lived.
Subjectively, prophetic existence brings mounting suffering to the person who follows the course. This suffering could be physical, mental and spiritual. It could come in the form of anguishing loneliness and misunderstandings in society. There are indeed many expressions of suffering. Suffering is therefore inherent in the prophetic existence and this will be felt by both the individual and the group.
Objectively, prophetic existence bears the marks of an unmistakable message from God. People will know it as a message of comfort, challenge, exhortation, encouragement or judgement. It will challenge those who are not living under God to know His will for their lives and to live this out in a down-to-earth way. This is the way of God for man, to live in ordinary circumstances but with a heavenly touch.
In short, the prophetic existence has a transforming effect on others. Such transformation will also affect society itself and make it new because individuals are inwardly transformed. The working out of this wonderful existence is similar to that of salt in organic matter and light in dark places.
Finally, prophetic existence is a reality. Men and women will know that a prophet or a prophetic group works in their midst. This is God’s gracious and loving provision for this desperate world.
(Excerpts from article, Prophetic Existance, P T Chandapilla , IFES 1976)