It's Not Fun To Be The Messenger

You know the statement “Don’t shoot the messenger?”  Well, in today’s reading, Jeremiah the Prophet understands it all too well (Chapter 26).

Poor Jeremiah. 

All he was doing was telling the people of all the cities of Judah what the Lord told him to say.  Because of that, all of the people were crying and responded to him, saying: 

“You must be put to death!  Why do you prophesy in the name of the Lord?”

You see, the life of a prophet involved telling people what they didn’t want to hear.  Prophets had to instruct people to turn away from evil and walk in the path of God.  If they didn’t do what they should, it was the prophet’s job to let them know what would happen to them.

This wasn’t usually received as good news.

People just don’t like being told what to do.  Neither do they like being told what not to do—apparently even if the word is coming to them straight from God’s messenger!

Jeremiah had to tell these people that if they disobeyed God and did not live according to the law God placed before them, turning back, each from his evil way, it would be bad for them and their city. 

Before that though, God had Jeremiah tell them that if they followed his ways, God would restore them by “breaking the yoke of Babylon” under which they lived and all of the people living in exile would be able to return to their land.

Just imagine you heard the prophet say, “Here’s what God is going to do for you. Just stop doing such and such.”  Wouldn’t your response be, “I’m in! I’ll do whatever you say and I’ll stop doing what I’m doing?”

Well, maybe not. 

Part of the problem is that letting go of the things we are doing can be pretty hard for us.  Turning away from them based on an expected promise being fulfilled takes a lot of faith.  As we can see from the response of the people, they didn’t have a lot of faith in the prophet. 

Anyway, coming to faith and believing in God begins with trust.  Before we can help move people towards God, we first need to genuinely gain their trust. If you are trying to help someone in your life come to faith, this is good to remember. 

There is no amount of preaching, coercing or prodding you can do that will bring people to faith.  This is God’s work.  However, whoever you would like to mentor will more likely be attracted to faith if you model what it means to be a Christian, and that begins with you listening to God’s Word and living according to his law of love.

Janet Cassidy


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