When I was in 9th grade, my friend and I started arguing on the bus about a handheld video game console called a Gameboy Advance. The disagreement centered on whether or not you could use headphones with this device. We argued the whole way to school and continued to argue while we waited in the cafeteria to be let in to the main area of the school. As the argument got more and more heated, my friend stepped towards me in a way that felt threatening. Reflexively, I smacked him clean across his face. A teacher came over to find out what the problem was, and, long story short, I ended up with three days of in-school suspension. He and I didn’t talk for a while, but eventually we got over it.
What’s the biggest fight you’ve ever had with a friend or family member?
What’s one reason why we might view someone else as different, intimidating, or even as an enemy?
The reality of having tensions in relationships–even having enemies–is not unfamiliar to the Bible. Check out this passage from one of the prophets:
Jeremiah 1:4-9 — “The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!”
You’ll remember that the ancient kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms. Their names were Israel & Judah. Israel was overtaken in 722 BC by the Assyrians, but Judah lasted 150 years longer, until 587 BC. One of the prophets at the time was a priest named Jeremiah. When God called Jeremiah, he said these words to him. Not just any words, but words like “I knew you before you were born, I set you apart, I appointed you.” God even put his own words in Jeremiah’s mouth, so that Jeremiah would always be able to be confident that he was doing what God wanted! God proved to Jeremiah— one of the prophets— that he was for Jeremiah.
Check out these verses, written by King David:
Psalm 103:3-5 — “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”
You probably know the details of David’s life… and in regard to his sins, the biggest mistake of his life was when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. Yet, David was able to write with clarity and confidence these amazing verses in Psalm 103: words about forgiveness, healing, redemption from death, being crowned with love and mercy, and having a life that is filled with good things from God.
These two examples— Jeremiah and David— show us that regardless of our situation, even in spite of our failures, God never gives up on us! This love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness–he gives it all to us! But do you think that we should accept these things from God and then keep it all to ourselves? If you answered “no,” you are correct. We are called to share those things with others. Just as God is for us, we are called to be for others.