Jeremiah 29 vs 12 - 14
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
Clearly it was going to take a time for the penny to drop for the exiles in Babylon. At this point in their captivity they were not ready to listen but still the Lord was gracious in his promises. When the time came and the spiritual longing of the exiles reached its fullness they would pray with sincerity and passion and God would answer. Look though at the assurances they received, “you will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord.” The curious way in which the assurance is given indicates not only that they will find God but that he will reveal himself to them. That is always the way with God he reveals himself to those who truly seek him.
Perhaps we have not yet come to the point when our hearts are stirred sufficiently to seek the Lord and his will for our future as his people. Perhaps we think, or some of us anyway, just a little while longer and everything will return to normal. That may be, but is it not at least possible that the Lord Jesus is trying to teach us something, that the disruption of our patterns of worship and the form of our ministry is at least preparing us for something new, a fresh work of God. Wouldn’t that be something worth finding out?
What’s the point? Well it’s this; we have to at least consider the possibility of new opportunities, that God the Father is preparing us to do things differently. In the past few years the church has become a bomb shelter where it is safe to be a Christian; an environment in which we can go about our routines and rituals without anyone bothering us and critically, without us bothering others. When we talk about the church being a “non threatening environment” for people we mean it in a good sense that no-one will be pressurised or judged because of their past. That’s a good intention but have we gone so far that now no-one is challenged in any respect to come to Jesus and yield to his authority and receive his salvation? Forty years ago a book called “Out of the Saltshaker” challenged Christians to get out of the church building into the world and talk about our faith in Jesus on the premise that salt cannot do its work of savouring and preserving while it remains locked in the saltshaker. Sometimes we are just slow learners and maybe this is our time.
I’ve been flying the flag for Ian White this week. Here’s another which I hope sums up our thoughts today.