Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Shoot the Messenger!

I've often thought how great it would be to be a full-time prophet of God.  Travelling by foot, dirty and unwashed, hungry some days, imprisoned the next, almost always ignored.  Not.  How did these guys stand it?  There was always someone who didn't like what they said, or challenged them to some miracle to prove the truth of what they were saying.  And of course you had the false prophets, who gave all prophets a bad name.  One, they always told the people what they wanted to hear.  Duh, WINNING!  Two, they made skeptics out of everyone when their false prophecies didn't come true.  Can you say, "Early Spring?"  Thanks for that, Phil.

Anyway, in Jeremiah 26, God tells Jeremiah to make another pass at the people of Judah; convince them to change their minds, repent of their sins, and God would hold back the punishment He had in store for them.  Long story short, the people threaten to kill Jeremiah.  They take their case to court, but Jewish officials hear Jeremiah's rebuttal and find him guiltless; they remembered Micah and his prophecy, and the wisdom of King Hezekiah when he told the people to repent.  Another prophet, Uriah suffered a worse fate.  These were, supposedly, God's people.  Why were they so opposed to a message from God?  Why were they so opposed to repenting of their sins?  If you walked into church on Sunday morning, and your pastor spoke the same message -- repent or die -- you wouldn't threaten his life -- would you?  So, why all the hostility?

1)  This took place at the Temple.  These people were coming to worship.  They were righteous (in their own eyes).  So here is a scraggly looking guy telling them how sinful they were, how angry God is with them, and how God is planning on decimating the very building He built/ they worship in.  More than likely, these people had decided Jeremiah was the one in need of repentance.  The headline of the Judean Gazette probably read, "Man of God Off His Rocker: Jeremiah, once a prophet of God accused of blasphemy!"  God, destroy His Temple?  His people?  Nonsense!

2)  So we probably wouldn't threaten a pastor's life, but how many people have left the church because a pastor spoke about "the sin of homosexuality?"  How many times have we wanted to put "Mrs. Busybody," who corrects one of our children, in her place?  Do we spend as much time meditating on the Scripture used at Bible Study last week, as we do debating something someone else has said? pouring over Scripture, trying to support our argument while discrediting theirs?  Or maybe we just poke around, trying to dig up some dirt on our pastor because he spoke out against pre-marital sex.  No one likes to be confronted with their own problems, and sadly, we Christians who should be open to correction, seem to like it least of all.

"Heavenly Father, soften our hearts, we pray.  Make us more like You, draw us closer to You, and give us the desire to know You better everyday.
 Give us wisdom and discernment.  Prepare us that we may be ever more conscious of our own sin, and open to the trustworthy correction of others. 
Father, thank you for those in leadership; I pray for their physical and spiritual health.  Help me to honor and respect them. 
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