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GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey


GSFA Devotional

25 JANUARY 2023 (Epiphany 3) 


Do not say, I am too young, for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord have spoken. (Jeremiah 1: 7-8)

When God called Jeremiah, he was young and made excuses. Even Moses who was of age made excuses when God called him. Neither age nor sophistication makes much difference to God. St Paul explained this to the Corinthians that: “Consider, brothers and sisters, how you were called; not many of you were wise by human standards, not many influential, not many from noble families. No, God chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong…” (1 Cor 1:26-27). This is an amazing reality that God has a habit of calling people just like you and me to speak the truth and stand for the truth of his word to the world.

For although Jeremiah complained of his inabilities, God knew that Jeremiah would be able to fulfil his assigned task - not because of who Jeremiah is, not on the basis of what Jeremiah can do, not because Jeremiah knows all the answers and has all the right words, but because of who God is. Jeremiah is able because God is able. God's faithfulness empowers and equips us to respond to God's call.

 On his own, Jeremiah could never do this work.  But God's point in speaking this word is that Jeremiah will not be left on his own. "I'll show you where to go," God says. "I'll tell you what to say and I will be with you" (1:7-8). God does not call people and then leave them. God does not call you and then abandon you.  So lack of ability is no excuse. And age isn't either. 

God calls Jeremiah "to pluck up and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow" (1:10). Maybe God is calling you to something similar, to dismantle a structure or an ideology that is incompatible with God’s written word. Plucking up and pulling down an unbiblical way of doing things. Sin has to come down from your life before something new can come up. Ungodly attitudes, bad systems, sinful and unbiblical practices, have to be denounced. We are called to be a voice for biblical truth, an agent of plucking up and pulling down worldly and unbiblical practices.

God's word to Jeremiah though is also a call to build up. Maybe that is what God is calling you to do. To start something new, to advocate a fresh approach, to put forward a different perspective and to repent of your past.  Each one of us who is a follower of Jesus has been called by God to speak His truth to the world. Jesus told his followers that they would be his witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). We are part of that church, so that commission is given to us too. By our words and actions we are called to spread the message of Jesus and invite people to be his followers. 

And we’re also called to speak in the name of Jesus to challenge injustice and oppression and violence and hatred and sinful practices. These are not the values of the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of God is about obedience to the written word of God, a life of holiness, repentance and forgiveness. In the name of Jesus, we’re called to spread that message and do what we can to promote it in the messy world we live in. This will involve helping people to see the failure of their false gods and to come to faith in the Creator God ( Is 40: 12-25-31). We are called to help encourage people to turn to the one true God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

 God called Jeremiah to speak his word, knowing full well that most of the people wouldn’t want to listen to him. Jeremiah spoke that message faithfully over forty years; at the end of his life he saw the fulfilment of all the dire warnings he had given, and as we read his words we’re left in no doubt that he was heartbroken about that, because he loved his people. And because he loved them, he kept on speaking as God told him to. Jeremiah was able to be faithful to God’s call because God was with him. It was simply a promise that he had heard from God: “I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD” (v.8). 

And when Jesus calls his disciples and sends them out to speak in his name, he gives them the same promise. In Matthew 28 he gives his great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (19-20b). And then he adds, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v.20b).

Jesus is with us, and he invites us to take him at his word and trust that he is indeed with us whenever we speak and do His will. In this New Year, let us all take a step of faith, stand on the biblical truth and speak the truth to those who are diverting the truth for selfish interests. Sisters and brothers, let’s step out in faith and courage. Let’s take every opportunity to speak our word of witness for him – and let’s leave the results in his hands.

Contributed by:
The Most Revd Dr Justin Badi Arama

Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan

Chairman, Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA).

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