By man’s measure of a successful ministry, the prophet Jeremiah was a failure. He did not persuade a great number of idolatrous citizens of Judah to change their ways. His preaching did not save the city of Jerusalem from destruction like Jonah saved Nineveh. He was not even liked by the audience to whom he frequently preached. He was persecuted and imprisoned by his own people. If Jeremiah was seeking a pulpit position in the church today, his lackluster resume would likely not even earn him a tryout.
Yet, in spite of man’s shallow, unspiritual assessment of this rabble-rousing preacher, God chose him to be one of the most illustrious of all His ministers.
Why? It was because, by the Word of God, Jeremiah confronted his brethren’s sins and made them see what they did not want to see. He used the Word of God as a mirror that reflected through the self-deceptions and revealed their true nature. For instance in Jeremiah 8:10 & 11, he courageously spoke for God when he preached, “From the prophet even to the priest everyone practices deceit. They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, Peace, peace. But there is no peace.”
This is what powerful preaching is supposed to do, it is supposed to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (Timothy 4:2). It is supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted! It is supposed to cause men and women to think, to honestly look into their lives and recognize what is wrong. It is supposed to compel all men and women to ask, “What have I done?” and repent (Jeremiah 8:6).
It is a good question to ponder as to whether the preaching in the church today disturbs us enough. It should. When we come to church and hear the Word preached, we should want to be challenged and provoked. We should want something to meditate upon through the week, something to be passionate about, even if the passion is anger and insult.
We need to encourage Jeremiah’s kind of preaching. We need to come to church with the attitude that what is heard from the Bible changes us…..for the better…..to the glory of God.
Floyd Kaiser, Southwest church of Christ, Ada, OK