Summary: Faith comes when we are willing to be radical in exercising our faith!
“Faith and a Radical Financial Investment”
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
(verses taken from NRSV unless noted)
Wakelee Church ~ September 19, 2004
Theme: Faith comes when we are willing to be radical in exercising our faith!
Introduction - Florida swamps, Brooklyn bridges and Love Canals
Land purchases are risky ventures. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people buying land that is in reality nothing more than a landfill. We’ve heard of people buying swampland in Florida, or stocks in the Brooklyn bridge, or the many who lost their homes due to the hazardous waste at Love Canal. Land purchases are risky investments today, with thousands of dollars often spent on site surveys simply to determine if the site is inhabitable.
And although the risks are different today than in Jeremiah’s time, land purchases then were still radical financial investments. To many, Jeremiah’s land purchase looked like the selling of Florida swampland to gullible purchasers, the selling of the Brooklyn Bridge to the immigrants, or maybe even another Love Canal story.
But to Jeremiah, this radical financial investment, meant everything. God was calling Jeremiah to get a little radical. To buy this land meant that he was exercising his faith more than exercising his need to be conservative, more than exercising his need to be rational, to be safe, and more than exercising his need to be fully in control.
From that jail cell, Jeremiah heeded God’s instruction and bought what was to be the Promised Land. He showed that faith comes when we are willing to be radical in exercising our faith…
And maybe, just maybe, God is calling to get a little radical with our faith as well. But we often are the reluctant aren’t we…walking out on faith is often a risk.
ILLUS) There’s a story of man who fell off a cliff, but as he tumbled off he managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. As he hung there, he shouted to the heavens, “Lord, are you up there?”
“I am the Lord. I am here to help.”
“Save me, then!” replied the man.
“Do you really think that I can save you?”
“Of course, you are God, you can do anything.”
“Then let go of the limb…”
“I said, if you have the faith that I can do anything, let go…I will save you.”
The man thought and pondered his dilemma, and said, “Is there anyone else up there?”
(Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, p.3)
We know that we’re supposed to show our faith…to trust in God…but we also know that it requires risk to do so. And to risk is dangerous. But to take a step of faith is to risk, and to risk for the sake of Christ, is being Christian. John Wesley once said,
“Christian faith is then not only an assent to the whole Gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ, a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a [resting] on him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us.”
(Salvation By Faith, Sermon #1, Works 1, 121)
In short, we exercise our faith when we acknowledge that we are not taking any risk at all, but rather our step of faith is demonstrating that the Christ in us, the hope of glory, is moving the Kingdom forward. Because of our full reliance and trust in Christ, we can rest even in the most faith exercising times knowing that God is with us and that through Christ, God loves and cares for us.
This is the story of Jeremiah in our passage. As the Babylonian army came knocking at the door of Jerusalem, Jeremiah made the decision to exercise his faith by making this radical financial investment without worrying about swamp swindles, bogus bridge buyouts, or hazardous waste wonderlands.
And in Jeremiah’s story, we may learn some things about exercising our faith as well.
I. First, we may learn that exercising our faith looks beyond our immediate circumstances (vs. 1-3)
Verses 1-3 show Jeremiah’s immediate circumstances. Not only were the Babylonians besieging Jerusalem (which would have been around 586 BC) but Jeremiah found himself in jail because King Zedekiah of Judah didn’t like Jeremiah’s prediction that the King would lose his land to the Babylonians once all was said and done.
Jeremiah’s immediate circumstances were grim to say the least. God had told him that his fellow citizens were going to be shattered like a potter shatters a pot to make something better. (Jeremiah 18:1-11). He didn’t want to preach doom and gloom. In fact, like many of us, I can only assume that he wanted to fit in. But Jeremiah knew that he needed to show his faith in preaching what he had been given to preach. God wasn’t done with Jeremiah yet…his immediate circumstance was only the beginning.