Jeremiah Compelled to Preach
Open Your Bible
Jeremiah 20:1-18, Jeremiah 21:1-14, Jeremiah 22:1-30, Isaiah 9:6-7, John 11:25-26
Have you ever felt God place a message on your heart that you couldn’t help but share? Sometimes that calling arrives on your doorstep when you least expect it. That was the case for me when my daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome. God has used her life to show me His deep love for all people, regardless of their abilities or achievements. My eyes have been opened to the shortcomings in my own heart, and in the heart of our culture, to affirm the worth of every human being because they are made in the image of God. I knew God was leading me to spread the word about how “perfectly and wonderfully made” people with Down syndrome are.
Sometimes the task God gives us is unpopular. The truth can be divisive, and by sharing the truth of the gospel we may lose friends, family, and opportunities. In some parts of the world, the consequences of faith are far more dire, putting the very lives of believers at risk for preaching the Word. The prophet Jeremiah was no stranger to persecution. He was given the dangerous assignment of calling Jerusalem out for their injustice and unfaithfulness to God. And while he was faithful to preach that message, it was not without internal wrestling.
One might look at the prophets of old and assume that witnessing is somehow easier for them than it is for you and me. We might think they liked the public stage and all that came with it. But Jeremiah makes it clear he would run away from the spotlight in a second if it didn’t mean running away from God too. So why doesn’t Jeremiah forget the risky business of prophecy and find a more convenient, safe way to serve God? Jeremiah is compelled to speak out because, as he said, the Lord’s message “becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in” (Jeremiah 20:9). His heart is so deeply tethered to the Lord’s that he cannot waver from his created purpose.
As followers of Jesus, God places specific callings to our lives through the movement of the Holy Spirit in us. For each one of us, the big-picture calling is to proclaim the name of Jesus. But we have all been entrusted with unique circumstances and gifts that shape the way we point the world to Christ.
What is the specific “burning” you feel in your bones? Are you being faithful to proclaim it? While it’s tempting to let the fear of repercussion silence you, look to the faith of Jeremiah for courage. He was a man who preached a dangerous message and experienced the backlash, but knew deep down he could do nothing less. The reason Jeremiah was able to be so bold was not because he was strong or special, but because he trusted that God is a “violent warrior,” one who could not be stopped (Jeremiah 20:11). That same powerful God is calling you and me to share the truth with the world in a very particular way. He will be with us every step of the way. The question is, will we let God speak through our lives?