Have you ever felt the weight of being a Christian in our world today?
When it comes to our climate today the ministry of the christian can be unique. We in the West live in a “post-christian” world and our values are not everyone else’s values. In fact, the church is in sharp opposition to a lot of “moral standards” in society today. For the average Christian this means every christian is a defender of the truth and is called to a noble task. We are called to live lives that are set apart from the world(1 Peter 1:15-16) and then even after that to call others to live lives as a reflection of Jesus too.
Jesus before he ascends into the clouds calls for his disciples to live in such a way and then to teach other people to live in that same way and for those people to do the same. It’s called discipleship and Jesus commands us to do this.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus calls his disciples to go out into all the other nations and tribes to make disciples, baptize them in his name and to teach them to follow all the commandments of God. This is troubling for you as a Christian today because God’s commandments even though they are good and trustworthy are not what people want to hear. God’s word makes many people angry and no matter how polite you are, someone is bound to hate what you believe because as you preach God’s word, you are calling people to live a life of self denial(Luke 9:23). People apart from God are enemies of God and workers of lawlessness. When you preach the gospel to them you are calling people to wage war against their desires and to be filled with godly desires. You are calling people to admit they need Jesus and to repent of their sins. In a world that loves self and is constantly innovating and creating new ways to please self more and more, we as messengers of God are not on people’s good side entirely because we are not/should not be aiming to scratch the itch in people’s ears.(This is not an excuse to be a jerk though)
The very fact that we believe certain acts to be sin in our day is to be offensive. To not applaud is to be the enemy. So the question is: will we be alone in this world as we fight against the sin of this world? Will we be neglected by God for following him in a world that does not love him? Will we even have the ability to be who God calls us to be?
There was a prophet in the Old Testament who actually struggled with this. He was young and from a small town. Yet God had called him to be a mighty prophet who would persevere through hard ministry where not only his peers hated what he had to say but the King would hate what he had to say.
When God calls this prophet though God assures him of not only who he is, but also of where God will be the entire time of his ministry.
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”
Jeremiah had a call on his life from early on to be a prophet of God in a very difficult cultural environment. During the time of Jeremiah not only would the message he preached be hated by his peers but also by the King Jehoiakim(Jeremiah 36). Fear no doubt was weighing on Jeremiah. Jeremiah was supposed to call God’s chosen people, Israel, out on their habitual sins. Jeremiah when he first was called on God in chapter 1 referred to how young he was. As I read some commentary on Jeremiah’s age, one said that Jeremiah likely was still living with his parents having no authority whatsoever. He was treated as a child and yet God laid this heavy calling on his life. Can you imagine?
Jeremiah did not just mention his age, he said “I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”(verse 6). These were not just excuses but Jeremiah was speaking out of humility of knowing that out of everyone around him, even he thought of himself as unqualified. Jeremiah was not an adult. Much like today, much wisdom comes from an older generation and yet here God gives Jeremiah, a young guy, the greatest of all comfort and confidence and calls him to be a voice that would speak loudly against the sins of this world and to call a wicked generation to repentance.
So Jeremiah was not “qualified” by man’s standards but God uses the the most unlikely of people to perform mighty acts of faith. The New Living Translation says this perfectly: You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you(Psalm 8:2 NLT).
Here to start off this new life of ministry for Jeremiah in the midst of humility and uncertainty, God says:
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
God not only tells Jeremiah to forget these “earthly qualifications” for who can be used by God but commands Jeremiah not to be afraid because God assures Jeremiah that through it all He will be by Jeremiah’s side and will deliver him.
And though Jeremiah felt as though he did not know how to speak God touches his mouth and places the living Word on his lips giving him the ability to speak the Words of God so now Jeremiah does not have to go learn how to speak but God has equipped Jeremiah to speak the message of judgement and repentance to a very hostile nation of people. As you continue to read the book of Jeremiah you see this young guy from a small town take on a nation who has abandoned their faith.
Israel at this moment in history had ran away from God and started to chase after counterfeit gods. They had forgotten all the wondrous works God had done for them over the years and the salvation God had brought them by delivering them from Egypt. Israel is referred throughout the book as a faithless wife who abandoned her faithful husband. Jeremiah was called by God to preach a message of judgement and repentance to this nation. This was no easy task and yet for us today as Christians we may be scared of whats to come. I am no prophet so I can not speak on how hard it will get to be a christian in America in the next few years but what I do know is that like for Jeremiah, God is by our side. God has not forsaken his people and as Christians because we are called to a life of being a disciple to Jesus and to make disciples of Jesus, God will equip us wherever we may feel like we are lacking. God will give us the ability needed to perform the work he has called us to and at the end of the day we always through whatever scenario placed in front of us, we will be able to rest in God’s sovereignty over every situation. Your fears may be big. Mine are, but God is always bigger than whats around the corner and he is by no means surprised. His call for our lives to glorify him have not changed. Be who God called you to be today. Do not wait for tomorrow. And whatever fears or worries or excuses you may have, tell them to God and let him show you the work he can do in your life as well as to the lives around you. God is faithful, rest in Him.
By: Austin Neil Gregory