Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 15-18
Today’s Reflection: Jeremiah 15:19-21
19) Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. 20) I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD. 21) “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.”
Jeremiah 15 suggests an interesting and disturbing reason for why we sometimes disobey God.
In verse 19 God says through Jeremiah, that the people of other nations should turn to Judah and follow their instruction, never the other way around. In verse 20 God says he will fortify Judah so that even if the other peoples fight against them they will not overcome them. In verse 21 God emphasizes that He will save Judah from the treachery of evil men.
Did you catch it?
Why does God tell Judah He will fortify them? And why does He reassure Judah that the other peoples will not overcome them? Well it’s because Judah knows the surrounding nations are just waiting to attack them. Why would the other nations attack Judah? They would attack if Judah refuses to turn their way and follow their instruction, to follow them into adultery, both literal and spiritual, into idol worship, and other practices detestable to God.
The surrounding nations basically gave Judah a choice: follow or fight. And some in Judah were afraid of the fight.
There were some who actively sought out the opportunity to disobey God for various reasons. There were some who tried to call wrong right. But there were some who knew full well that following the ways of Egypt, or Assyria, or Babylon, or the Medes was wrong, and they did it because they were afraid not to.
And we all know how that feels.
To be the one not drinking, or smoking, or doing whatever else at the party. To be the one NOT at the party at all.
It’s a fight.
It’s a fight to stand out, be different, stand up for something else. It’s a fight, it’s hard, it’s tiring, and sometimes we just don’t want to do it.
But we have to. Because the same people we’re feeling pressured to behave like need to see us being different. They need to see us being the difference we claim to believe in.
They WANT to see us being different.
They want to know that when we declare ourselves ‘Christian’ we’re not ‘Christian in name only’. They want to know we’re the real deal. They want to know there’s an alternative to the way they’re living and if we make that alternative look good and viable and healing and empowering and peace-giving, maybe they’ll check it out. Maybe they’ll turn our way.
But if we’re acting just like them what does that say about us and our God? Well it says our God is really no different than whatever God (or higher power, or spirit, or universe, or absence of all of the above) that they’re already serving, so why should they consider an alternative? Why should they believe what we say, or believe in the God we espouse?
If we turn their way, they can’t turn our way. They can’t see God’s way in us.
So if we will stand our ground God will cover us while we fight, He will keep us while we fight, He will preserve us while we fight. He will take care of the hits our reputation, and our ‘coolness’ and our standing with the crowd might take. And when the fight is done, and we’re still standing, someone who’s been fighting us all along will find that they respect us. And when in response we give God the glory, that someone will find that they respect God too.
That’s worth fighting for, isn’t it?