Sermon Text: Proper 8A – We do not always bring peace

June 27, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons0

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Proper 8A – We do not always bring peace

  1. When we left Jeremiah last week he was lamenting that his call to be a prophet had cost him everything, For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.
    1. But despite that, even though it endangered his life, he was compelled to proclaim God’s Word, If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jer 20:9)
      1. Jeremiah was compelled by the Lord’s call to speak God’s Word for the sake of the people, to call them back to God’s covenant requirements.
      1. We concluded last week with the hope that Jeremiah’s burden to proclaim God’s Word would be our burden, that the sweet Gospel message, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life…would be the fire in our bones that we cannot contain.
      1. That that same fire would compel us to find a way to speak God’s Word in such a way that it allows the Word to be heard over our own rhetoric.
      1. It’s a difficult balancing act, how to let the Word do it’s work of revealing sin (being the offence) without the speaker becoming the offence.
    1. Today in our readings we are reminded that that’s not always going to be possible when we follow the Lord
      1. That sometimes, no matter how hard we try if we are going to proclaim the Word truthfully the world will not be able to separate the message from the messenger.
      1. We do not always bring peace!
    1. Once again, we find Jeremiah in conflict in his ministry, this time with another so-called prophet named Hananiah.
      1. Remember that Jeremiah was the last prophet before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian army for their faithlessness.
      1. Hananiah preached what the people wanted to hear, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, declares the LORD, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.” (Jer 28:2-4)
      1. The people were afraid, the Babylonians had already sacked Jerusalem before but they weren’t ready to repent they just wanted peace.
      1. Hananiah’s words went down easily, it’s what the people wanted to hear
    1. And Jeremiah responds, “Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles.” (Jer 28:6)
      1. No prophet wants to see the consequences of the truth that they’ve proclaimed, who rejoices in death and destruction that could have been prevented if people had only listened?
      1. But Jeremiah still proclaimed the truth even though it’s not what the people wanted to hear in the midst of their undoing, “The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.” (Jer 28:8-9)
      1. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, and people don’t like to receive bad news that’s why we have the saying, “Don’t kill the messenger.”
  2. But today our culture finds it increasingly difficult to separate the messenger from the message
    1. We live in what’s been called a “cancel culture” – where it withdraws support for (cancels) people or companies after they’ve done or said something objectionable or offensive.
      1. Examples of this abound in our present climate, historic statues are being torn down irrespective of what that individual historically stood for; guilty because of the time in which they lived.
      1. Or the inability to validate even the good opinion of a political adversary because any validation is interpreted as support.
    1. So, we as Christians find ourselves in a precarious position
      1. On the one hand we need, like Jeremiah, to maintain absolute biblical credibility, we cannot compromise God’s truth
      1. While at the same time remembering that Christ’s shed His blood for the world, His invitation of salvation through faith in Him is open to all people
  3. Further, how do we proclaim that Good News in a culture that no longer recognizes the biblical concept of sin? Who needs salvation when they think they’ve never sinned?
    1. In Jeremiah’s day there was an objective standard to which he called the people – God’s Covenant, His Word
      1. When the western world espoused a roughly Judeo-Christian worldview there was at least a broad consensus on values.
      1. There were sacred days in the week, faith was an important part of life (1st Amendment bears witness to that), etc
      1. There was an acknowledgement of good and bad – pornography, premarital sex, same sex relationships, drugs and alcohol, etc were regarded as deviations from the norm – the norm being biblical values.
    1. But society has done an about face, what’s bad is good and good is bad, etc
      1. Where people once believed that there was an external standard by which values could be measured now in the post-Christian world individuals become the measure of right and wrong for themselves without reference to anyone or anything else.
      1. People now identify with their sins, to condemn a sinful behavior is to condemn the person because in our world the two are inextricably linked
      1. We can’t love the sinner and hate the sin because in a radical twist the sinner has become the sin – to denounce one is to denounce the other.
    1. In our Gospel, our Lord reminds us, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mat 10:34)
      1. The truth of God’s Word has always brought division because as sinners we don’t like being called to account or held to any standard but our own.
      1. That as much as we, like Jeremiah in our OT lesson, could wish that we always had a pleasant word we are called to live as witnesses of God’s truth
      1. We must expect that there will be those, no matter how nicely we articulate God’s Word, who will not only reject it but us in the process.
      1. We do not always bring peace!
    1. The Word of the Lord cost Jeremiah everything, most of us won’t experience that level of rejection but even what we experience hurts.
      1. But our Lord reminds us that we need to set our sights not on the near term but the long term, Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mat 10:39)
      1. Our faith journey is a life-time not a week or a month or a year
      1. When we are patient and faithful our Lord will reward us with the crown of life that He has prepared for those who love Him.
      1. Be strong and courageous in the Lord and His Love knowing that we don not always bring peace but we do bring the Word of Life!