Summary: This sermon about a willingness to speak the truth even when it’s not very popular.
Who Is Willing To Speak Up?
Have you ever had the experience in which something was going on that was not right, or something was happening that you disagreed with but you just left it alone and walked away? Only to later be bothered by your thoughts, thinking, I should have said something and spoke up for what was right or for the truth. Or maybe have you been in a situation in which you were being attacked by others, and people that you thought would speak up and say something on your behalf just remained silent trying to avoid eye contact with you.
Imagine being the Apostle Paul for just a moment. Here is a man that has risked his life time and time again to get the gospel to people who have never heard about Jesus Christ. People are continually telling him how much they love and appreciate him and what he is doing. They know that without all the sacrifices Paul had personally made to reach them, they may have never come to faith in Christ.
Then comes that day when Paul is arrested for preaching the gospel. The charge is that Paul is preaching a message that there is a leader greater king than Caesar who is worthy to be praised. In an empire in which Caesar is seen as practically a god, this was serious business. This could be seen as treason, and anybody preaching such a message or helping someone preach such a message could be put to death.
Paul is put into a dank, dark dungeon. He probably thanks God for the brothers and sisters in Christ that he can count on for their love and support at his trial. He wonders who will say what about him and about his love for Christ when his life or a long imprisonment may be on the line.
When the trial starts, Paul is shocked at what goes in the courtroom. He writes as we saw in 2 Timothy 4:16, “at my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” Do you know how encouraging just one person speaking up would have been to Paul? No Paul stood alone. Where are the people who could have said, this man is telling the truth because Jesus changed my life.
The silence and the absence of witnesses are not due to a desire to betray Paul, but rather a fear of what might happen to them if they sided with the truth. How many of us have been there, where we know if we say something or get involved there’s going to be a price to pay, and we’re not willing to pay that kind of a price.
Larry Burkett, whom God used to help probably millions of Christians and others get their finances in order, died on the 4th of July. In an interview he had given in the 90’s, he said he made a promise to the Lord. The promise was, “Lord, I will do whatever you want me to do as long as you make it clear.” Are we willing to take that kind of a risk in surrendering our lives over to Christ? Lord I’ll do whatever you want me to do, as long as you make it clear.
In our Old Testament reading we find the prophet Jeremiah. God makes it clear to Jeremiah, that even before he was born, God had chosen Jeremiah to be somebody who would speak up for the truth. At first, Jeremiah thinks he’s too young to be used by God, but God assures him letting him know that Jeremiah will be a prophet to the nations.
This sounds like a great job. In today’s setting, Jeremiah would be an internationally known speaker talking to the likes of President Bush of the US, President Chiraq of France, President Putkin of Russia, and Prime Minister Sharon of Israel. CNN would be coming to Jeremiah to get the inside scoop of what was going to happen before it happened.
There is a downside to the job. The people that Jeremiah will be speaking to have made the decision, it is alright to worship God, so long as it does not keep them from creating other gods and doing whatever they wanted to do. It is not that unlike what we have today in our society. People were heavy into astrology and worshiping the stars.
They were in the middle of a sexual revolution in which adultery was not only running wild, it was encouraged and had found its way into the lives of the prophets and priests. Some men to get around the rules of adultery, would divorce their wives, marry someone else, divorce the second wife, and then remarry the first one.