Thursday, October 24, 2019

"The Eternal Optimist"

Jeremiah 26.2-3, 8, 12 The Message

“God’s Message: Say everything I tell you to say to them. Don’t hold anything back. Just maybe they’ll listen and turn back from their bad lives. Then I’ll reconsider the disaster that I’m planning to bring on them because of their evil behavior.”

“When Jeremiah had finished his sermon, saying everything God had commanded him to say, the priests and prophets and people all grabbed him, yelling, ‘Death! You’re going to die for this!... Death to this man! He deserves nothing less than death! He has preached against this city’.

God anticipated a negative reaction to the prophet’s damning message. He is all-knowing and therefore knew in advance how Jeremiah’s unpatriotic words would impact his countrymen. Or, did He? 

If our nation came under attack by a radical Islamic terrorist organization with enough nuclear power to pull off a takeover and a religious fanatic told me to submit to the foreign power, I’d accuse him of treason and might call for the death sentence. That’s exactly what they said to Jeremiah and his subversive message...

“Death! You’re going to die for this!”

Jeremiah didn’t question God. He simply did what he was told...

“Say everything I tell you to say to them. Don’t hold anything back.”

The prophet was not stupid. He knew what would happen. Or, did he? God sounded so optimistic…

“Just maybe they’ll listen and turn back from their bad lives.”

Jeremiah delivered the divine polemic precisely as God instructed. The results were disastrous. Apparently God’s hopeful outlook was wasted. Or, was it?

God is an optimist. His vision of the future is unlimited. If He has reason to be optimistic, then so do I, no matter what the circumstance. Do things always appear perfectly bright and cheery? No. But God sees the future differently. There is, apparently, a redemptive purpose behind every horrible event. He has proven to be a God who deeply loves the people He made. He is a God of second (and third, fourth, ad infinitum) chances. He has given me more second chances than I can count or deserve.  

The eternal optimism of God is somehow connected to His eternal desire. Ultimately, God gets what God wants. The Bible says God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1st Timothy 2.3 NET). People have free will and may finally choose to reject God’s gracious offer. However, I suspect more will come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because The Eternal Optimist will give them (like me) many more opportunities than (I think) they deserve. 

I would like to be more optimistic; that is, more God-like. 

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