Summary: In a world where godless opinions threaten to throw our faith completely off center, we turn to God’s Word to recalibrate the sights of our faith.
RECALIBRATE THE SIGHTS OF YOUR FAITH
Lent 2 – March 7, 2004
Jeremiah 26:8-15 But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, "You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?" And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. 10 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD’s house. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!" 12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing."
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, our Rock and our Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Amen.
Dear sharpshooters of the faith,
How many of you can resist making a snowball when the snow is at that perfect wet packing stage? It is a grand temptation for myself, especially if there are a lot of moving targets around. One New Year’s Eve I was at a missionary’s house, when we got a good foot of snow. All of the missionary families were getting together to celebrate. So all of the missionary kids were at the house too. A snowball fight was irresistible. Everyone sought shelter where they could. Though it is proper to seek shelter in our Lord, one of the boys took this truth a bit literally that night, and hid behind a lighted nativity scene, using the baby Jesus as a human shield… or a divine-human shield. I don’t know which was the worse crime:
1) hiding behind Jesus, while pummeling others with snowballs,
2) drawing fire on yourself, when Jesus might be the casualty, or
3) the guy who disregarded the sacred manger, aimed, misfired and hit the baby Jesus with a snowball, knocking out the light of the nativity scene?
And to think that the guilty party was a member of the clergy… the shame of it all. What comforts me, I, the one guilty of this crime, is that Jesus forgave even those who crucified him. The moral of this story: When aiming for Jesus, do so with faith, not snowballs.
Today we want to consider how well we aim our faith at Jesus. All three readings this morning have reminded us how the majority of this world has aimed for God, but very few have leveled their crosshairs on the true God. Many hunt for God, but because their faith is misplaced and off center, their trust is of more harm than good. Like my poorly aimed snowball, instead of hitting the intended target, it knocked the light out of Christ. In the Gospel reading (Luke 13:31-35) Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Though their zeal was great, it was so often misdirected, and cost the lives of the prophets, whom God sent to them. Jesus, himself, would fall as their victim, though he came to gather them under his wing. Paul, in the Epistle reading (Philippians 3:17-4:1), admits from his own experience, “Many live as enemies of the cross” (v. 18).
How is the aim of your faith? Today we consider Jeremiah, a prophet outnumbered, called on by God to recalibrate the sights of his people’s faith. If so many of God’s people could be wrong and led astray, including the religious leaders of their day, should we not be cautious ourselves. Let us go to the courtyard of the temple to learn from this faithful prophet how to keep our sights focused and steady on our God, so that we don’t inadvertently snuff out the light that Christ has given us.
I. God is the Target.