Self-preservation is both a natural human instinct and a grave spiritual danger. If we never move beyond measuring every action and relationship by how much is in it for us, this behavior becomes self-aggrandizement. Multiplying our own power, wealth, and reputation becomes the purpose of our life. It becomes the prison that shuts us away from the richness of human relationships.
If we choose to remain stuck in this infantile phase of life, yet claim allegiance to some form of religious faith, it is a religion whose little god loves no one but us. An old story tells about a man who said his prayers diligently every night for his family: “God bless us four, no more. Amen.” One wonders whether he could have made room for grandchildren.
Many people in Jeremiah’s time believed that their God took interest only in them and their welfare. Other people, other nations were on their own. “We have our God; let them find their own.” However, God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, not to Judah only. A little god is for little, self-centered people. That is not the God who drafts Jeremiah and tells him not to be afraid. When we try to limit the love of God to people like us, then we see others as a threat to us, as less than us, and as enemies to be eliminated.
Six centuries after this great prophet’s call, Jesus reaffirms Jeremiah’s message, reminding us that God loves the whole world and gave the Son so no one needs to perish. The borders of God’s family and reign encompass all and within the borders we find no place for fear.
God, whose love is always expanding, stretch our minds and hearts, enlarge our neighborhoods, and prepare us to live in the vastness of your love. Amen.
The Luke text portrays the healing that Jesus has just performed as a call to decision, a call to “repentance and changed lives.” Hebrews proclaims to the readers that they “have come . . . to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” For Luke, Jesus and his wonderful works signal the accessibility of God’s transforming power and thus signal also the time for repentance. The accessibility of God’s transforming power is evident in the lessons from Jeremiah and the psalm, although Jeremiah has no choice! And amid opposition from the wicked, the psalmist af rms what Jeremiah had been told by God—that his life from its very beginning has belonged to God.
• Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. God offers light to a world covered in darkness. Where do you see God’s light in your life? How can you offer this light to others?
• Read Psalm 71:1-6. When in your life have you turned to God for refuge? How did trust in God help the situation?
• Read Hebrews 12:18-29. We belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. How does that realization help during dif cult times?
• Read Luke 13:10-17. How do the limitations we experience turn us to the power and grace of God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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