Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In the time of Jeremiah the prophet there was a plague going on among the people of Israel. It was a plague of misinformation, of false teaching, of enthusiastic preaching that resulted in condemnation and destruction. Jeremiah 23:16-17 warns about this in no uncertain terms.
We don’t have to look around us very carefully to see the same kind of false teaching, both inside Christianity and outside of it. Several allegedly Christian leaders have been teaching and preaching about “casting vision” and even placing ideas in a “vision book” or on a “vision board,” telling their follower that if they put their dreams up in a concrete form, then pray about them regularly, God will bless them with the fulfillment of those dreams, whether they are financial or social desires. In the end, the person who is posting those ideas on a vision board exalts himself to the position of God, effectively commanding the entire universe to comply and grant his wish. It is false teaching, to be avoided like the plague.
Among non-Christian elements in society these ideas are rampant, which shouldn’t surprise any of us. People are told to pursue their dreams, that there is nothing they can’t do, and that everything will go according to their plans and desires.
Of course, from an earthly perspective, sometimes our desires work out just fine, especially if they are appropriate desires. I want to have productive work in a particular field, it is a field that offers opportunities, I can get the training or education needed, and I find that I am enriched by having a fulfilling line of work which pays me well. It’s perfectly reasonable. Or I am interested in having a very positive relationship with my wife, so I decide that I am going to steadfastly treat her well, with patience, kindness, love, and all the rest. As time goes on, usually that relationship will blossom and turn out quite well.
What if we try to pursue visions which are not compatible with what God has given us, or if we try to push an earthly agenda on our own authority and it isn’t one that will work? I won’t even mention the fact that I would love to be a star basketball player except that I don’t have any reasonable ability or athletic inclination. And I’m well under six feet tall. And in my fifties. God isn’t going to change my height or my career in that direction. It isn’t God’s fault, it is a problem if I decide that’s my agenda and God owes it to me.
On the earthly front, what happens when, for instance, we start realizing that people treat other people badly, that we can’t always change it, and we think we should always be able to make it happen? Or, worse yet, we think that someone else should be able to make people stop treating others badly? We become angry, frustrated, and often treat someone badly.
When we decide to take things into our own hands and run them, we’re setting ourselves up for failure, for frustration, and for condemnation before God, because we are taking on the role that only God has. Rather than pursuing our own course, let us ask what God in His Word has said he is going to do for us, for our neighbors, and how He would have us live in recognition of his mercy and grace.
In Jeremiah’s time, the nation of Israel fell captive to the Babylonians. The prophets who were saying everything would be all right were dead wrong. Or were they? God used this time of captivity to show that He can preserve a people for his name even when those people are deported and enslaved. He later set the people free physically, then spiritually as he sent Jesus, God the Son, born of a line preserved through the time of captivity, to set all who believe free from sin and death. Everything turns out all right, but it is in God’s plan, not our plan.
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