Our focus this week in Sunday school was on brokenness as a requirement for maximum usefulness. We focused on 2 Kings 21, about the bad king Manasseh and Jeremiah 15. Now Jeremiah was a generation or so after king Manasseh, but it was interesting to look at the two side by side, since he was in effect speaking to the long term effects of Manasseh’s actions.
Manasseh, you see had brought back all the idols that his predecessors had gotten rid of. As a result, the judgement was that the people of Judah were to be given into the hands of the Babylonians. Again we remarked on how the judgement was corporate, not just of Manasseh. Of course, he was in charge, but we did notice that the people seemed to have no qualms about going back to the forbidden idol worship. Along comes Jeremiah, and he says repent or God’s going to give you up to your enemies. They not only didn’t repent, they got on Jeremiah’s case for saying such things. In fact, they threw him into a cistern at one point and jailed him at others.
I think the point for us was that Jeremiah didn’t get to lead a comfortable life. There was a lot of brokenness involved in his calling. And because he was saying the truth as God told him, people despised him. No one wanted to hear it. When he was lucky, someone would rescue him from the clutches of the current government. At least, he was rescued from the well before he could die of the ordeal. But they argued with everything he said, even after being conquered in exactly the way he had predicted.
It wasn’t part of the conversation, but I am thinking just now about the whole Harold Camping thing. There you have someone spouting nonsense, that clearly goes against the words of Jesus himself, that no one knows the day or the hour. Not only that, but he had been wrong before. And yet people followed him, and for all I know, continue to do so. The false prophet has a following of adoring fans who send him money. The true one suffers all sorts of things and no one wants to listen to him. I wonder if it is always that way. Winston Churchill apparently urged the British government to take a stronger stand against Hitler. He was then cut out of power until the policy of appeasement was proven to be useless. Things went better when they began to listen to Churchill.
Of course, few of us are called to be prophets, in any event. Much of the lesson was simply about adversity on a much smaller scale. We all experience adversity of one kind or another. It’s comforting to realize that God will somehow use it for good. Often it involves something to do with building character, or making us better able to comfort others. We also looked at Romans 8 and 1Corinthians 1, where those concepts come in. Earlier on, it had been mentioned how brokenness causes us to depend on God. It makes sense in a way, to think that God can best use us when we are hanging onto him for dear life. When you have no strength of your own, you know when God comes through for you.
One of our members shared a situation at their work, where there is someone who hates them for no discernible reason. It was a new situation for this person and they are having to learn to step back and realize that there is little they can change in the situation. It is sort of one of those areas where you accommodate where you can, but you also have to take a stand on things on which you should not bend. And of course it helps to understand that the issues may involve things in the other person’s past ( or even your own) that they may have no conscious awareness of.
That was pretty much it for the class. They were closing in prayer as we music folks slipped out the door. It was short but sweet.