Jeremiah 1:4-10 (NRSV)
Verse 4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, Verse 5"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Verse 6Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." Verse 7But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Verse 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." Verse 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. Verse 10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."
Sometimes it is the smallest or most common of words in a passage of scripture that catch our attention so that we hear it brand new. In verse 8, the Lord instructs Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them….” Who’s them? “Them” are the people who are going to be on the receiving end of Jeremiah’s preaching. We often read scripture as if we are innocent or neutral observers. But “them” is also us. Now what? The good news is that God is not afraid of telling us what we need to hear. The word of the Lord points out the fallacy of our self-righteousness or assumption that we can save ourselves. The word of the Lord brings us to repentance and humility before a God who loves us with a love that is not afraid to change us. Jeremiah brings a word of the Lord that is not afraid to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. And for us that is good news.
God, whose word is a living active thing, make us ready to listen. Give us grace so that we can change. Give us faith that we too can preach your word and not be afraid. Through Christ our Light. Amen.