Jeremiah 20: 9 “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
Jeremiah was in a bad way. He had taken a lot of punishment for speaking God’s Word to his people and was sick and tired of it. He had just been beaten and put in stocks for prophesying on the orders of a popular false prophet. Jeremiah cried out to God in anger and discouragement; “You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long” (Jeremiah 20:7,8)
Jeremiah was a perceived to be a ‘Negative Ned‘ by those in power and those who followed the popular prophets of his day. To make matters worse for Jeremiah – he couldn’t shut up. He tried and God’s Word would burn in his heart like a fire. The conventional wisdom, ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all‘, just wouldn’t work for poor Jeremiah. He just couldn’t shut up. This is just as big a problem for Christians today as it was for Jeremiah in his day.
The Gospel message is one of repentance, hope and redemption. It isn’t popular. It isn’t well liked because it upsets people. Individually a persons prideful view of himself or herself has to be deflated for repentance to work. Collectively our society believes that we are our own masters – our bodies belong to ourselves, we have a fundamental right to do as we please and be happy. We hope for the wrong things and demand the freedom to pursue useless dreams of plenty and luxury. As a society of affluence we want no redemption from our condition. Nobody likes Negative Neds and Nellies who call for repentance to people who are successful and lack nothing.
Peter and John were put in a similar position when they were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the Gospel message; “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected,which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11,12) The religious establishment, keen to preserve the ‘status quo’ and their place in it deliberated; “‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’” (Acts 4:16, 17)
Peter gave the only response possible for a people of God; “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20) They were not beaten for saying this; not because the Sanhedrin saw the light but because they were undecided as to what punishment to mete out because of the miraculous healing that no one could deny.(v. 21,22) Later, filled with jealousy the Sanhedrin imprisoned the Apostles for their preaching and work in God’s Name (Acts 5:17,18) Again God worked miracles (Acts 5:19,20)
Why don’t people see the miracles? Why didn’t the Sanhedrin see the miracles? They were to busy looking out for their own interests. Selfishness is a world class blindness! Why don’t we see the miracles of repentance, hope and redemption today? We’re too busy watching TV, playing video games and paying down on the new car, the mortgage and our last luxury cruise in the Caribbean. All the Negative Ned’s just cramp our style, drive people from our churches and always have to be contrary. Why can’t they just SHUT UP!
Jesus said; “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11,12)
Come Lord Jesus!