Jeremiah and Hezekiah saw the world differently. Jeremiah talked about the need for the people to repent, to change from their ways to God’s ways. Hezekiah was Mr. Sunshine; he told the people that they were fine the way they were and did not need to change.
In some ways, we are in a similar situation. Some people argue that everything is fine--I’m okay. You’re okay. But, are we? Not really. Are we not all sinners in need of God’s grace? Yes. Do we not all need to repent and turn away from our sinful selves and focus on God’s truth, light, and calling? Again, yes.
When you look at the world, what do you see? Often, I see brokenness, loneliness, fear, unrest, despair. I see a world in need of Christ. I see people who do not understand what a covenant relationship with God looks like. I see people who do not truly love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind because we are too busy putting ourselves first. I see a culture that tries to fill the void of brokenness with everything, except God.
Our calling, as Christians, is to be a light in the world. We cannot be God’s light when we fan the flames of hatred or engage in name-calling. God will judge each one of us. The means by which we enter a relationship with God is Jesus atoning death and resurrection, not our works or a right understanding of righteousness. In the end, every theological precept will fall before the glory of the Lord, and we will have only Christ Jesus to claim as our justification and the Holy Spirit as advocate.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous verse, scribbled on wall hangings all around the world, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
We are irresponsible if we pin our theology on one verse of scripture. However, this verse summarizes a profound faith in God that is consistent throughout the Bible. When we hear news that troubles us, we can try to take a long view.
When there is a mass shooting, as in Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston on June 17th, we can pray for the victims’ families, pray for the survivors, pray for the shooter, and seek ways to be involved in finding a loving, Christ-like way forward. We should not engage in kneejerk reactions. When the Supreme Court of the U.S. makes a major decision, especially one that evokes an emotional response, we can pray for the people who are on the other side of the issue and seek God’s guidance in our response.
Move slowly. Imagine the other person. Consider Jesus’ response to hot issues in his day.
Ask what can I do to bring glory to God, unify my sisters and brothers in the Holy Spirit, and shine Jesus’ light in the world.