Sermon Ideas For Jeremiah 1:4-10 Part 5
God's call and the human response to that call is a major motif here. Let us consider a few points regarding Jeremiah's initial hesitation to accept his call and see if we can find ourselves in Jeremiah's response.
We will begin with the human tendency to shrink from such awesome responsibility. Perhaps Jeremiah felt inadequate as to his perceived ability to do the job well; maybe he was afraid; maybe, given his familial history of priestly vocation, he did understand the solemn responsibility God's call entails and shrank from it.
Still today, the human tendency, all-to-frequently, is to not want to commit self to such sacred responsibility. This is why we are ever so quick with our little excuses. Ever since the original excuses as recorded by our first parents in Eden, rationalizations for aberrant personal behavior are practically second nature.
Gideon, for example, quickly thought of apparently obvious reasons why he wasn't the one to deliver Israel (Jg 6:15,17). Even after the angel burned up the food he brought to her, and the famous "flleece test" extended for another night to his satisfaction, (vv. 36-40), when it finally came time to attack the Midianite camp, fear filled him still (Jg 7:10,11).
God called Moses from that burning bush in the land of Midian. Moses had no difficulty in coming up with several reasons why he was not a good choice (Ex 3:11; 4:1,10).
With resolute determination Jonah set out in the opposite direction from where the Lord called him to go (Jon 1:3); when Ezekiel initially experienced the Lord's summoning power, feelings of bitterness and anger resulted (Ez 3:14, 15). Upon receiving the news that she will soon become pregnant with the Messiah, Mary nervously asks quite a legitimate question: "I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?" (Lk 1:34, TEV).
God, however, in each of these situations, was not easily dissuaded. After all, God is God, and God responded to each objection individually and personally. God is still in the business of relating individually and personally.
God reassured Jeremiah that yes, God would make himself responsible for Jeremiah's success and this was not to concern Jeremiah. Upon verbal reaffirmation of divine sovereignty, God reached out and touched Jeremiah's lips. The physical touch is the transforming act. God's touch is power. God neither wavers nor becomes frustrated in the face of "insurmountable" obstacles (excuses). Calmly and convincingly God reassures Jeremiah; the physical touch is the cathartic moment.
So it is today. As then, God's call comes to each of us. However fragmented, mundane, meaningless, or seemingly trivial life may seem; no matter what kind of clumsy excuses, or even the most cleverly articulated excuses I may come up with, God stays with me and does not reject me as I sometimes feel like rejecting others who behave in such manner towards me. The fact is, in spite of whatever "baggage" you or I may be carrying around, we, each of us, must be ever mindful that "Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him." (Eph 1:4, TEV)
The tendency to not want to be too involved (if we get involved at all) is still alive and well. I don't like to stick my neck out. But as it is God who calls me, the tension between wanting to follow and not wanting to follow, between wanting to get involved and shying away from involvement, is, at times, tremendous.
I think of Peter, mingling in the courtyard of the high priest's house after Jesus' arrest. He wanted to be there, but he didn't want to be there. Particularly, he endeavored to dodge recognition as having been ever even remotely associated with that man on the stand. This is me. Jesus called me; I am compelled to follow because of who Jesus is, but I often shrink from the responsibilities this following entails. However, there is no place in God's Kingdom for nominal commitment.
I expect Jeremiah would have been quite content just being a small-town priest as his father. No doubt he would have functioned quite adequately in this, had not God called him away from family and home to the capital city as a spokesman to the entire nation. In his fear, hesitation, and balking, God reached out and touched him. God is still in the business of touching us today. It may not be a direct, physical touch, but it happens.
This touch comes to us, perhaps through the touch of a friend or the breathing of the Holy Spirit; maybe a smile or word of encouragement from someone significant to us. Whatever the case, it is a genuine touch of significance, importance, and healing, a touch each of us longs for.
Tim Eberhardt Mingo-Wayne Home Health Kermit, WV