None of us like to feel uncomfortable, especially when we’re listening to messages at church. But a good pastor will not only give messages of comfort and encouragement, but will also give messages that challenge us to grow. And for most of us, messages that challenge also tend to make us feel uncomfortable.
That’s exactly what the priests, prophets, and other leaders of Judah were not doing. Jeremiah starts this chapter by criticizing the leaders for not leading and caring for the people. In a political sense, they cared little if at all for justice and the physical needs of the people. But in a spiritual sense, they had led the people into idolatry and spiritual adultery. In so doing, not only did they fail to do anything to stop the spread of evil among the people, they even promoted it. And when they spoke, they only said things that made the people feel good.
God said of them,
The prophets˼ follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness…
They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness…
Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’…
“I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord. (10-11, 13-14, 16-17, 30-32)
The same can be said in many churches today. In many “Christian churches,” they actively promote as good what God has said is evil. And they fill people with false hopes saying “You will have peace” when judgment is looming over them.
But God says to those who would be his representatives,
“Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (28-29)
What kind of church are you going to? Is the word of God burning like a fire there, getting rid of the chaff in your life? Is it like a hammer that breaks the hardened places in your hearts and makes it soft soil where the fruit of God’s Spirit can thrive? If not, it may be time for you to leave and find somewhere where you can grow into the person God’s called you to be.
The day will come when Jesus will return, “a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. (5)”
But until that day comes, let us commit ourselves to following him, and going to churches that are committed to the same.