Hi everyone. Rob here.
I have been reading the first few chapters of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was given the call to be a prophet, a spokesperson for God, as a very young man, probably mid to late teens. Josiah, a good king, was in charge but the hearts of the people had been hardened after many years of idol worship and the corrupt rule of King Manasseh. Jeremiah’s words to faithless Israel seem very relevant to our time as we face the consequences of human ego and pride. We are now a planet in peril and we have ourselves to blame. God alone is our hope. Listen to Jeremiah’s words in chapter 4:
O Israel,” says the Lord,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
2 Then when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!
Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4 O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,
or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
This passage speaks about the human tendency towards self sabotage in the name of our pride and power. We like to think we have the answers! But as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc, climate change continues apace, economies wither and we wage our private battles with depression, anxiety, apathy, cynicism and a desperate search for meaning, we see very clearly that we don’t. And we weren’t meant to. At least, not without being surrendered to, and therefore connected to, God.
Our love of power and control gets in the way of God’s transformative vision for our lives. This is so at all levels of life; from governance to commerce to our own households and hearts. The irony is this. By believing in our own grandeur we end up living in a much smaller story than the one God has written for us. God wanted Israel to change the world by being a blessing to it. All they were interested in was being buddies with whatever empire would have them. Instead of influencing the world by their faith, they were being manipulated by empires because of their lack of faith. The moral is that when we try to live by our power alone we end up more powerless than ever before.
At the moment the world is trying to exercise power over a virus and largely failing. Nations are trying to exercise power over other nations and making themselves less safe in the process. We try and fix the environment but our greed keeps getting in the way. We try and make ourselves happy but our idols refuse to give us joy. Wisdom would tell us that our pride isn’t working. It’s time to humble ourselves before the God of grace and goodness who wants to give us lives of hope, joy and love.
So stop. Breathe. Remember. God made you. God loves you. Through Jesus, God has saved you. God invites you to surrender your power and your pride so that you may have life. A Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, Spirit-powered life. It’s the kind of life that matters, makes a difference, blesses the world and brings joy to your heart. Let’s lay ourselves down and seek it together.
Grace and peace.