The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry in 627 B.C. His was a difficult calling. The people of Judah broke the covenant with God by worshiping false gods and not caring for the poor and oppressed. 100 years earlier the people of Israel had done the same thing and God punished them by sending the Assyrian army to destroy their nation. Jeremiah’s lot in life was to proclaim that same kind of judgement. If the people of Judah didn’t repent, the same kind of judgement would fall on them. And in fact it did. In 587 B.C. The Babylonian army invaded Judah, destroyed the city and temple, and carted off many of the people into bondage in Babylon.
This is the beginning of the call story of Jeremiah. Perhaps Jeremiah had an inkling of what was to come! He wasn’t too excited to respond to God. But as in many other places in the Bible, God responds with the words, “Don’t be afraid”, (Jeremiah 1:8) When the angel went to Mary and told her she had been chosen by God to bear His son, his words to her were, “Don’t be afraid.” (Luke 1:30) When the women went to the tomb on that first Easter morning, the first words spoken were, “Don’t be afraid”.(Mark 16:6)
Someone has counted 365 times in the Bible when that phrase has been spoken. Fear is one of the most paralyzing forces in our world. When we are afraid we are worthless. The two words “in action” become one word – “inaction”. Now, there are good things to be afraid of. Snakes. Hurricanes. Fire. But Jeremiah and Mary and the women at the tomb were all being called by God to share His message and build His kingdom. God’s kingdom has collided with our world in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because of that collision, God is using ordinary people like us to do extraordinary things. It is our high and holy calling to build God’s kingdom, to witness to God’s son, to proclaim God’s word of grace and judgement. It is a difficult calling. Many people and many churches have and will continue to shrink away. But to the people and churches who don’t, God’s word to us is the same word that God spoke to Jeremiah…
“Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” -Jeremiah 1:8
How are you responding to God’s call not to be afraid?
How is LCR responding to that same calling?
What would the possibilities be like if we and LCR were even less afraid?