For Sunday, August 21, 2016
Year C, Proper 16
What difference can I possibly make in the world? In our weaker moments all of us ourselves this. The answer is every difference, if we would only understand the calling God has on each of our lives.
Jeremiah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. He became such when I came to understand something God directed him to do later in life. God said, “Jeremiah, the Babylonians are coming to overrun your country. So I want you to buy land in your hometown of Anathoth.” Who would buy real estate in the face of an impending Babylonian invasion? Only someone who knows the end of the story. Jeremiah bought that land and it worked out very well for him and his descendants. Likewise, we once bought real estate in Siberia. Despite very long odds it worked out for us too!
What moved Jeremiah to make that purchase is what we read about here in Chapter 1. God had a call on his life from before he was born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (v. 5). The same is true for each of us! Ephesians provides confirmation: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
We may not be called to be a prophet as Jeremiah was. But look at all the other aspects of Jeremiah’s call from chapter one that do apply to each one of us who follow Jesus:
- We are known by God (v. 1a)
- We have been set apart (v. 1b)
- We have been appointed to a specific calling (v. 1c)
- God’s words have been put in our mouths (through the Holy Spirit) (v. 9)
- We have divine authority to speak to nations (v. 10)
Jeremiah’s reaction was the same one we have. “But Lord, I’m only a child” (v. 6). What the Lord said to Jeremiah then he says to us today: “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (vv. 7 – 8).
So said Jesus to his disciples as his last words before ascending to heaven. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18 – 20).
A preaching outline
Becoming people of destiny (3 touchstones):
- We are called from before our birth (vv. 4-5)
- We are commissioned to proceed (vv. 6 – 8)
- We are commended with divine authority (vv. 9 – 10)
Points to ponder:
- Do you believe God has a call on your life? If not, where does the argument above fall short?
- Do you know what your specific calling is? Here is a great resource to help.
- Have you embraced the divine authority of your call? If you did, what difference would it make?