Sermon Text: Your Word has become a Fire that I cannot hold in!

June 21, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons0

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The Praise of a Trapped Prophet Bulletin >>>

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – The Praise of a Trapped Prophet

Proper 7A – Your Word has become a Fire that I cannot hold in

  1. Over the past several weeks since the killing of George Floyd there has been an overwhelming push to declare our opposition to racism and injustice – a good thing
    1. It is not enough to remain silent, that is seen as tacit approval of the old order.
      1. And we have seen example after example of this trend in public and private life.
      1. Juneteenth, which is the oldest commemoration to the ending of slavery in the United States, has become a paid holiday for corporation like Cisco, Best Buy, Target, Nike, and even NYS.
      1. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. By the way that was over TWO YEARS after the Emancipation Proclamation.
      1. May this moment in history truly provide the catalyst to unite our nation and make us one nation under God in word and deed.
    1. And just as we should passionately speak out against injustice, we as God’s children should be ready to speak God’s truth at all times no less passionately
      1. Currently it is very popular to raise your voice with those calling for justice, as it should always have been.
      1. It is easy to follow the crowd, to do the right thing when you’ll receive accolades for it.
    1. But suppose you were called to raise your voice and proclaim something that would cost you your freedom, your popularity, or your life.
      1. The history of the Civil Rights movement is just that.
      1. From 19th century abolitionists down to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, they faced fierce opposition and even death, the truth was offensive to those in power who opposed them.
      1. We, as Christians, are now entering a time when we’ll be called upon to profess God’s Word, which the world finds increasingly offensive and it will oppose us, too.
      1. The relative peace that the church enjoyed while it was at the center of western culture was an aberration – persecution was still happening in the Muslim world, Asia, and the pagan cultures where missionaries went.
  2. Persecution for speaking God’s Word even happened in Israel as we see in our OT lesson
    1. Jeremiah was a prophet at the close of the southern kingdom just before Israel went into exile in Babylon for their unfaithfulness
      1. God’s prophets were sent to call Israel back to their covenant promises and blessings as God’s people by proclaiming God’s Word
      1. But the Israelites continually fought against God’s prophets, choosing to live like the pagan nations around them rather than God’s people
      1. And they persecuted the prophets for proclaiming God’s Word
      1. It would have been much easier for them to withhold God’s word for their safety, but they didn’t, they proclaimed the truth at their own peril
    1. The words of Jeremiah in our OT lesson take place after one of his punishments for proclaiming God’s Word.
      1. At the beginning of chapter 20, where our reading comes from we hear, Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying…Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah…and put him in the stocks…in the house of the Lord. (Jer 20:1-2)
      1. Did you hear that, Pashur the PRIEST, chief officer of the house of the Lord, beat Jeremiah and put him in the stocks for prophesying.
      1. This wasn’t the rabble, this was someone who was supposed to be on Jeremiah’s side, a priest in the house of the Lord.
    1. This kind of opposition marked Jeremiah’s entire ministry, it had to be draining day after day and year after year.
      1. In our passage you can hear his frustration, I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me…For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. (Jer 20:7-8)
      1. His calling cost him everything – no friends, no allies, only persecution
      1. He knows it would be better for him not to speak, to follow the crowd, but he can’t, 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. He had to speak God’s Word; he couldn’t hold it in even if no one listened to his preaching.
  3. Do you have the same fire in your bones as Jeremiah? Are you as quick to proclaim the Word of the Lord as give voice to a movement in society? Can you say with Jeremiah, Your Word has become a Fire that I cannot hold in!
    1. Beloved, we are called to proclaim the Word of the Lord, whether popular or unpopular, in word and deed
      1. Are you afraid to bear witness to the hope that lies within you because you know that the world, your family, your friends don’t want to hear it?
      1. If it is important for us to speak truth to power and injustice how much more important is it to speak God’s saving Word to a world dying in sin?
    1. For too long we have been afraid to speak because we’ve allowed others to speak for us, and not in the most charitable way
      1. For too long the loudest Christian voices spoke only of condemnation, of whose worthy and whose unworthy of the kingdom, only to be exposed as frauds and hypocrites themselves
      1. The world was listening and watching, and their failure has made our job more difficult, the secular world is skeptical of Christian “truth”
      1. Those voices were/are part of the problem no less than people like Pashur the priest was in our lesson from Jeremiah – traitors in the house of God
  4. But how did our Lord witness to those trapped in sin – did He begin with condemnation or “follow me”?
    1. We know from the Gospel accounts that the ones He chose were not the intellectual elite, the religious leaders or economic powerhouses
      1. The people with whom He surrounded Himself drew condemnation – tax collectors and prostitutes, all those the religious traitors said were sinners beyond saving.
      1. Our Lord spoke truth to the powers of His day, that all are accepted in God’s Kingdom, that He had come to save the lost, those trapped in sin
      1. He didn’t compromise God’s truth, but He turned the lost with a gentle word, “go and sin no more…your faith has made you well…”
    1. That is what we are called to do – to come alongside the unbelieving world not with a word of condemnation, “you’d better change or else…” but gently
      1. Paul tasks Timothy to do the same in his ministry, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2Ti 4:2)
      1. And again in Galatians, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. (Gal 6:1)
      1. We don’t compromise God’s Law but find a way to articulate it that it opens the door for repentance, the Law properly presented prepares for the Gospel by revealing our sin and need of a Savior.
    1. Truth can be a club used to beat people or an invitation to change
      1. The truth of God’s Word about us is this, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1Ti 1:15)
      1. When we start there our words are much more apt to be gentle, we are all beggars before our Lord in need of His grace
      1. The truth of God’s Word for those outside of faith is this, God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16)
      1. May that invitation be the burden…the fire in your bones that you can’t contain! May the Holy Spirit give you the power and ability to live out that truth for the sake of the world!