A LESSON FROM JEREMIAH By Rev’d Jonathan Gale
Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10
1 Corinthians 1: 1-13
Luke 4: 21-30
In the recent Parish Review, the area identified as most in need of work (by a long way) was our ability to share our faith.
Jeremiah has something to teach us here. He was a young and inexperienced man living in the years before the people of Judah were exiled to Babylon. But what did God say to Jeremiah in these difficult times, and does that teach us anything?
- God knew him – You’d like to think God would have a good knowledge of you before he gave you a particular job, wouldn’t you?
- God consecrated him – That means he set him aside specifically for a purpose. It helps to know what God wants you to focus on so that you don’t waste your energies on things that he hasn’t decided is your task, doesn’t it? But what was it he was consecrated for, he must have thought. And …
- God appointed him – This makes it clear. It’s good to know you have a specific job to do. But for Jeremiah that was a problem! God had told him he was going to be a prophet and he knew what that meant!
He responds with, 6Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’
But God seems to ignore this excuse. God goes on to say,
- You shall go – well, he’s not got a choice in the matter! That’s a bit awkward. Would you feel the same?
- You shall speak – O, O! That’s exactly what he doesn’t want to do! How do you feel about speaking for God?
But God doesn’t accept excuses because he knows a thing or two. God goes on to say that the reasons he is so confident in Jeremiah is that, as God puts it
- I am with you, (verse 8 ) – Not, I may be with you. Not, I will be with you. I am with you. Would that encourage you?
- I have put my words in your mouth (verse 9) – There’s that speaking again!
You see, it’s not actually the speaking that scares people, although God realises that could be a challenge and provides all the support needed.
The real issue is a sense of unworthiness which is expressed in:
- A fear of what people will think of you – possibly even reject you
- A fear of making a fool of yourself
- Thinking you’re not spiritual enough
Well, we will never be worthy. Our worth is Christ’s worth.
If we are scared of speaking to people about Jesus, it really helps to hold before us that all should be done in love, because 13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
It helps to be clear because sometimes when we speak we are going to be misunderstood.
Jesus’ hearers were so reluctant to hear that he was the Messiah that they completely ignored the substance of what he said, and focussed on his lovely delivery. 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth, it says.
Jesus is not letting them off the hook. While he spoke graciously and no doubt lovingly, he wanted to make sure they understood the message.
It helps, when we share the Good News with anyone, to do so graciously (lovingly) but also very clearly.
You see as Christians tasked with the Great Commission we have a serious assignment from the very mouth of Jesus. And it is a Co-mission. We are co-workers with him.
You can bet that how God helped Jeremiah is how he helps us: he says to Jeremiah:
I knew you,
I consecrated you
I appointed you
You can bet that when he says You shall go and
You shall speak that he will help us in this too.
You can bet that if he says to Jeremiah I am with you,
I have put my words in your mouth that this applies just as much to you and me.
In conclusion: If we are to change the habits of a lifetime and learn to share the Good News effectively there are a few things we need to put in place:
- We need to understand the context in which we operate. That is why each week in the email that accompanies Day One I am posting a podcast that you can listen to. It is a conversation by cutting edge young men on what makes up the mental climate of modern First World people.
- We need to ensure that our relationship with Jesus is strong. Not an adherence to a set of ideals, but an actual relationship with the Son of God. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. It just has to exist. It is here that our sense of worth is developed.
- We need to be prepared to be obedient. That takes faith and faith grows when we spend time in the Scriptures – personal devotions that involve prayer and bible study.
- We need to know how. That is why I will be spending some time this year teaching on how to share the Gospel: how lovingly to communicate the Good News of Jesus to people who do not know him yet.
We are co-workers with Christ. Let’s always remember that. And let us remember that there are people out there who desperately need God. You may well be the person God chooses to introduce them to Jesus.
And some final encouragement from Luke 11:
8 ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.
1When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’
Let’s learn a lesson from Jeremiah. He took some brave steps and after a while he had this to say (Jeremiah 15: 6) When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.
One step at a time and we’ll get there.
There is nothing as meaningful or as joyful as working with God!
When we know who were are in Christ, and when we start taking small steps in sharing Jesus (the reason for our existence), our life takes a turn that puts a smile on our faces.
God bless you