A People Of Influence.
“If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” – Jeremiah 15:19 NLT
Like all prophets, Jeremiah had a difficult job. He was commanded by God to preach a message of coming destruction if the people did not repent of their sins and return to God. Every day he had to point out the sins of the people and remind them of what God was going to do to them if they didn’t stop. He had to tell the religious and political leaders that they were also doomed because of their lousy leadership. As a result, Jeremiah was anything but popular. He wasn’t invited to parties or greeted warmly when passed on the streets. As God’s representative, he was blamed for anything bad that was going on. And as if his job was not hard enough, he had to face competition. There were other prophets walking around, but their messages were contradictory to Jeremiah’s. They were telling the people that, “all is well – no war of famine will come. The Lord will surely send you peace” (Jeremiah 14:13 NLT). Who do you think the people listened to? Jeremiah was a lone voice crying in the wilderness. His messages went unheeded. Jeremiah was a social pariah, a reluctant loner who cared deeply for the people of Judah, wanted to remain faithful to God, but who longed to have a normal life. At one point, he got so low that he prayed, “Unlucky mother – that you had me as a son, given the unhappy job of indicting the whole country! I’ve never hurt or harmed a soul, and yet everyone is out to get me” (Jeremiah 15:10 MSG). Jeremiah let the Lord know just how he felt: “I never joined the party crowd in their laughter and their fun. Led by you, I went off by myself. You’d filled me with indignation. Their sin had me seething. But why, why this chronic pain, this ever worsening wound and no healing in sight? You’re nothing, GOD, but a mirage, a lovely oasis in the distance – and then nothing!” (Jeremiah 15:17-18 MSG). Jeremiah was feeling the affects of his occupation. He was wearing down and feeling low. You might say he was having a pity party.
But in the midst of Jeremiah’s moment of sorrow, God responds. He doesn’t blast Jeremiah for the brutal honesty of his prayer, but instead He encourages him. God fully understood what Jeremiah was feeling. He knew the difficulty of Jeremiah’s job. It was not easy. But God needed Jeremiah to stand strong. He needed Jeremiah to complete the job he had been given. So God tells Jeremiah, “Take back those words, and I’ll take you back. Then you’ll stand tall before me. Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining. Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me. Let your words change [them]. Don’t change your words to suit them. I’ll turn you into a steel wall, a thick steel wall, impregnable. They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you because I’m at your side, defending and delivering. GOD’s Decree” (Jeremiah 15:19-20 MSG). God knew just how difficult Jeremiah’s job was, and He knew just how tempting it would be to just simple tell the people what they wanted to hear. Just by changing his message, Jeremiah could change his condition. He could become popular. He could go from social outcast to social butterfly, well-liked, well-known and well-received in all the right social circles. But that was not God’s call on his life.
God needed Jeremiah to stand firm and remain strong. He wanted Jeremiah to stick to the truth, and remain faithful to the message he had been given, no matter how difficult it might become. And the same stands true for us today. A message of sin and repentance is not popular today. No one wants to hear that their a sinner in need of a Savior. No one wants to think that they might be guilty and in need of punishment. So the message of the Gospel falls on deaf ears. People reject the truth and search for alternative messages. Paul warned Timothy about this. “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But [you] – keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 MSG). We are called to be a people of influence, telling the truth of God, even when falsehood might make things easier on us. We are to remain faithful to the message God has given us and the task He has assigned us. Paul told Timothy, “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not,reprove, rebuke, exhortwith complete patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:3 NET). Keep on keeping on. Remain strong. Be a people of influence.
Father, don’t let me give up or grow weary. Your message of hope and salvation needs to be heard, even if no one wants to hear it. Keep me faithful to Your Word and Your calling. May I be a person of influence – but solely based on Your Word. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men