Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Jeremiah 7:1-15 (NRSV)
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the LORD. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.
I hate to seem political, especially in this day and time when everyone hates everyone for no other reason than they are “on the other side.” I get tired of that pretty easily. That being said, Jeremiah doesn’t let a girl straddle the fence. He was a very political person, and the Bible is a very political book—as in God’s side is the right side of everything.
So how else can we be when we hear this word from God? The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, and if we believe that what the Bible says is true, how are we to act? Jeremiah says (my paraphrase, but I think it is close; check for yourself): If you are going to come to church, you need to amend your ways. You have to act justly to one another. You can’t oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow. You cannot shed innocent blood, and you can’t serve other gods.
You can’t steal and murder and make offerings to other things, and then come to church and expect God to protect you. God says, basically, that if we think God is kidding, just look at other places and churches. They are not still standing.
I can’t help thinking that we need to set aside our “secular politics” and be Christians first and foremost. We can’t talk the talk and then walk whatever walk we want…and that includes me.
God says we must do five things, and I am committing myself to them:
1. Not oppressing the alien—I am going to have to stand alongside immigrants who are coming to this country just like my ancestors did and speak out for the farm workers who need justice.
2. Not oppressing the orphan—I am going to have to raise my voice along with those at General Assembly and in other denominations and demand that children who are being abused whether they are being taken away from their parents or being sexually or physically abused by them and say, “Enough is enough.”
3. Not oppressing the widow—I am going to have to speak for those who are infirm and aged who need my voice and my hands and feet to help them.
4. Not shedding innocent blood—I am going to stand with others who are calling for a stop to the violence happening in our streets, our schools, our churches, and even in our backyards and say, “No more.”
5. Serving only God—In order to do this, I am going to have to do the four things above. Otherwise, I am not following God’s word and putting my faith into action.
You may think that this devotion is not much of one or that it is too political, and that’s okay. I would challenge you to read Jeremiah 7:1-15 again and discern what God is saying to you. For me it is a Christian battle cry. I would love to hear what you think God is saying in this scripture.
O God, I ask you to convict our hearts and make us truly trust in your before any other. Help us to have the courage to be called Christian before anything else. Amen.
Go with God.