As part of an ongoing attempt to increase my awareness of God’s word and presence, I have been listening to the book of Jeremiah on my way to work every morning. Ok, it’s really because I’ve been using Habitify, an app that keeps track of good and bad behavior by giving you points and leveling up a la RPG. One of the habits I am trying to improve is daily scripture reading, so I am doing it for points. In a game. But hey, it has worked so far! God works in mysterious ways………..
So anyway, Jeremiah. I have read many chunks of Jeremiah in the past, and there were 2 passages that stuck out to me:
-In Jeremiah’s call, where God tells Jeremiah don’t be terrified in front of his enemies, or God will terrify him in front of them
-Jeremiah 29, where God instructs the Israelites to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city, that how the city goes, they will go.
That’s pretty much my Jeremiah experience up to this point.
Boy have my eyes been opened.
It has been a long, continual theme of God’s heart breaking over his people. There is an incredible openness and vulnerability from God that I wasn’t expecting. Look at Jeremiah 4:19:
Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
He talks of His people wounding Him, Him weeping over their behavior, that He has tried over and over again to reason with them, to call them, and like a rebellious child, we didn’t listen. Yes, the Israelites’ story is the human story. We all do this all the time, and I believe that God is still affected deeply by our rebellion. We don’t do what He has asked. We lie. We don’t defend the poor, the sick, the immigrant, the prisoner. We laugh at justice. We love money more than people. We serve the gods of success, health, wealth, family, beauty, friendship, wisdom, logic; none of which are bad, but when we put our hope in these things, God is wounded. He gave us these things. He is not only jealous, and wants our hearts, but he KNOWS our hearts and knows that those things will let us down. He is the only one that will never let us down. And so he weeps for us, not just that we’re cheating on Him with lesser things, but that He knows what that will do to our hearts.
Jeremiah over and over again paints a picture of God being so hurt that he is totally done. “Ok, fine. You don’t want my help? Let your gods save you when calamity comes. The gods you made with your hands and have to nail to a board so it won’t fall over.” Jeremiah 10:35-37. Paraphrasing, of course, but you get the point.
God wants our heart. He wants our faithfulness. Why? Is He insecure? Does He need our affirmation to validate His power? Of course not. God knows better than we do what we need to be whole and happy, and He knows that all these other things will hurt us in the end. Look at that list of gods we serve:
This is a partial list, of course, but it will do for this purpose. What of those will last forever? What of those is guaranteed? What can not be lost?
They will all fade away. There is only one thing that can not be lost. Only one eternal force for good. Only one thing that will last forever. And we choose to put our hope, our faith, our trust in other things. For me, it’s wisdom and success. I feel like if I can just have those things, I’ll be happy. But what happens when I get them? What defines wisdom and success? How wise is wise? How successful is successful? The pursuit will crush me. Yet, my heart is still attached to them like a tongue to a flagpole in a blizzard. I know it hurts, but I can’t pull away.
Now, take my example, and look at me from God’s perspective. Don’t hurt yourself. You know what’s good for me, what I need, and you know I know. Yet you watch me make the same mistakes over and over again. Jeremiah’s words start to make sense. Go ahead, serve those gods. If you don’t want to learn, if you think you know better than God Almighty, go right ahead.
But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Here’s the deal:
We don’t live in the same reality that Jeremiah did. We know of the gift of grace, salvation through faith, the adoption into God’s family, forgiveness of sins, our new identities found and sealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t feel when we choose others over him. Being a child doesn’t mean we can’t hurt our parent.
I heard a preacher say once that when we sin we aren’t breaking God’s rules, we’re breaking God’s heart. Jeremiah has been driving this point home for me. God loves me, and is invested in my heart like no one else. He died to satisfy the debt of my sin, and rose from the dead so that I would never have to know a moment without Him, and show His power over death.
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. It’s good to be loved.
What do you think?