Jeremiah Speaks to the Modern Church

It’s been a long time since I read any of the prophetic books, and honestly I don’t like reading them that much compared to the NT, but I knew that I should, and I randomly chose to read the book of Jeremiah. And I find that as I’m reading it I’m thinking about the Church a lot. Specifically, the Church in North America, but my own local congregation as well.

Publication1While Jeremiah was speaking to a specific people in specific contexts, three passages have especially stood out to me so far as being especially relevant for us today:

Jeremiah 2:13

“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!”

When I read this I was again reminded of how we have a great lack of the Spirit’s power in our churches today (and indeed, also in my own life). We have abandoned prayer and dependence on God and instead have turned to the methods and practices of the world – especially the business and entertainment worlds.

A great example of the latter is the Global Leadership Summit, put on by Willow Creek every year. Its target audience is church leaders, and its speakers are high profile church leaders and successful business leaders. Many of the business leaders they have speak are not Christians, and their talks focus on how to be a successful & productive manager/CEO of the church, using secular business models.

Examples of the former include things like sermons that aim to be relevant and accessible (and are generally about having a better/happier life – “5 Keys to a Healthy Marriage” – as opposed to pointing us to Christ and His work on our behalf), and worship songs that make the singer the main subject (as opposed to God). Some of these songs don’t even mention God, preferring the pronoun “you,” and are generally indistinguishable from pop love songs on the radio.

This is a problem on so many levels. But enough ranting there.

Jeremiah 16: 11-12

“Then you will give them the Lord’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word. And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.

I’m ripping this passage even more out of its original context (God is spelling out what Judah’s idolatry is leading to: lots of death and eventual exile), but this passage made me think of how, as a young believer I yearned for godly mentors and leaders in my church, who would take me under their wing and show me what it means to be a Christian (having an unbelieving mother and a new-believer father myself). Mentorship is so important!

And I think about how my current church has prayer meetings that only two or three people attend, and how the love of Jesus is not very evident in our midst, and how our media habits and our life-goals are not any different than the worlds, and how this is the example we’re giving our young people of what it means to be a Christian.

And so if we get it so wrong, how much more will the next generation? This breaks my heart. However, I am solaced with the thought that God always preserves a remnant for himself. What we will have to answer for though!

Jeremiah 14: 19-22

Although our sins testify against us,
    do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
For we have often rebelled;
    we have sinned against you.
You who are the hope of Israel,
    its Savior in times of distress,
why are you like a stranger in the land,
    like a traveler who stays only a night?
Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
    like a warrior powerless to save?
You are among us, Lord,
    and we bear your name;
    do not forsake us!

This is the prayer that I prayed for myself, my church, and the Canadian and U.S. Church after I read it. I’ll continue to do so, and I invite you to pray it with me.

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