I have a always wondered why the prophet Jeremiah was labeled "The Weeping Prophet" so in an effort to seek answers and gain clarity, I recently took a deep dive head first into the book named for him. What is clear to me right off the bat is that he was assigned to speak and prophecy to a very stubborn, stiff-necked people. First of all (inserts sarcastic index finger), he didn't want to do it... and thus attempted to render God an excuse just like you and I have been guilty of doing.
"I do not know how to speak; I am too young." (Jeremiah 1:6)
In similar fashion as he does with us, the Lord promptly and firmly shut down his excuse. You see there really is nothing new under the sun. Here's what he told the young buck:
"Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, " declares the Lord."
So that was that!
I can understand Jeremiah's hesitation. These people were a handful to deal with, and the deeper I go into my studies (yes I am still reading), the answer to my original question becomes more apparent. I too would cry if I had to deal with continual, arrogant, unapologetic, and blatant defiance. Here he is trying to carry out and fulfill the mandate God placed on his life, but the people were giving him hell!
I want to illuminate one passage in particular that is found in chapter 5, verse 22. The people from the house of Israel and the house of Judah had been so unfaithful and defiant against the Lord that he made a parallel to try and help them see their own disobedience. He asks them "Do you not fear me? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it can not cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts."
Even though the focus in the text was on their disobedience, what leaped off the page to me (while not even looking for it!) is the extreme awesomeness and sovereignty of God. I have visited the beach on numerous occasions and it is always amazing to me that the waves know precisely where to stop. I was not aware that this was in scripture so yea I got a bit giddy when I discovered it. The waves may crash upon the shore, but they know that their place is inside of the ocean so consequently, they roll back down into the water.
Do we know our boundaries with the Lord? If we do, are we diligent in asking Holy Spirit to help us to maintain them? Why wouldn't you chose to obey His statutes? This is only a difficult feat if you decide that it is. (Prov. 13:15)
People today are much like those in Jeremiah's time. While all he was doing was trying to preach and prophecy to fulfill the mandate and on his life, they were giving him grief on every side. People should reckon with the fact that the word will never change to fit their selfish and fleshly agendas nor will it become outdated or "culturally irrelevant". It stands and it stands alone. The church, by and large, has become soft in it's message of repentance. The older people whose tutelage I came under would say things like "It's tight, but it's right." They would utter statements like: "The word is either gonna draw you (closer), or it'll drive you (away.) Statements like that helped you to understand that being lukewarm in your salvation was not an option.
Those called to preach, teach, and declare the word of the Lord, like Jeremiah, must continue to stand strong regardless to how people respond. Keep in mind that the Gospel is shared in far more ways than just through pulpit preaching. Wise people are using every tool in the toolbox to get it out. The truth - I mean the real truth... is not popular; especially today, so guess what? As a leader, if you're not crying sometime, maybe you need to do a 'truth check.'
Matthew said you will be hated because you follow Jesus. If everyone is singing your praises, take another look at what you are serving at the table. Like the Lord told Jeremiah, "Get yourself ready!" because regardless to the opposition, the unwarranted hate, the rejection, the mockery, and the disdain that some may have for you, you still have job to do. Cry if you must, but stop you cannot.