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Rebuke and Retribution
Jeremiah 17:5-10, Jeremiah 17:1-4, Jeremiah 11:18-23, John 3:19, Jeremiah 12:1-6, Jeremiah 14:1-16
October 24, 2015

“If you want to start a conflict, share an opinion on Facebook.” Of course that’s one of the creative memes floating around on social media. It’s right up there along with “No, I don’t watch soap operas, I have Facebook. There’s a new episode every five minutes,” and, “I’m so thankful for Facebook. Otherwise I’d have to call 563 friends and tell them what I just had for breakfast.” Fortunately, we have this wise counsel from Abraham Lincoln: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” [1] The first statement, however, is often painfully true.

Want to thin out a few people on your friends’ list? Post your support of one of the presidential candidates. Want to clean out half of them? Repost a witty statement either in support of, or against, gun control. The ones who don’t immediately “unfriend” you will attack your obvious lack of common sense. And the friends who comment in support of your stand will—like a domino effect—begin to lose some of their own friends. Making a spiritual statement about some Biblical concept you hold dear will send your more secular friends to do an online search to discover what strange cult you belong to. Take a stand on any issue and there will be retribution! [2]

Jeremiah experienced that retribution firsthand. A good way to lose lots of friends is to deliver a message to them from God. Jeremiah faithfully delivered the messages God gave him, though he knew there would be retribution. It wasn’t always easy for him to remain faithful to his calling. He even boldly challenged God about this when he said, “Let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1, NKJV).

A prophet like Jeremiah doesn’t choose the message God calls him or her to deliver. It’s (usually) never enjoyable to rebuke someone. It’s especially unpleasant to receive retribution for standing for God and righteousness. It can be devastating when that reproach comes from a friend or family member.

There is a meme that says “I wish Facebook would notify me when someone unfriends me so I could hit the ‘Like’ button.” But that’s not really true, is it? Whenever we are punished for doing right, it stings. Prophets are people, first and foremost, with genuine feelings. The challenge that Jeremiah faced was to remain faithful to God’s call in the face of withering opposition. God calls us to the same level of Christian charity today.

Even when you want to message someone with the meme of the Grumpy Cat singing: “Like a good neighbor… stay over there.”

~ cb

1. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7011403-don-t-believe-everything-you-read-on-the-internet

2. http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/6-reasons-why-someone-might-unfriend-you-facebook