Thought for the Day by Janet Lindley (All Hallows’)
“Nothing to fear”
You know that feeling. It’s like bashing your head against a wall. You’re having a conversation, trying to explain something important, but the person you’re talking to doesn’t get it.
It’s exhausting. Frustrating. At times maddening.
Sometimes it’s a lack of understanding. They just haven’t got there and need some processing time. But others it’s stubborn pig-headed-ness. Digging heals in and refusing to budge.
Our two readings today, though different voices, are all about that frustration!
First is Jeremiah in the Old Testament with some pretty strong language. He’s calling the Israelites airheads and scatterbrained. Why? Though he’s using his own words, he is a prophet – his job is to speak uncomfortable home-truths from God. His challenge – remember that God rescued you from slavery. Not just that, their good fortune was a gift to start with, so don’t hold onto it quite so tightly.
The second voice is Jesus speaking to the educated, informed and pious church elite. He’s accusing them of failing to recognise who he is. Despite evidence from multiple reliable sources, they are being more swayed by public opinion.
What to do with these upbraiding readings? Put them aside as a couple of religious rants? Or start picking out people we know who are that annoying? Do we say “I wouldn’t do that, it doesn’t apply to me”? Or beat ourselves up for letting our personal motives get in the way?
But when we sit and stop, what is underneath?
Is there fear? Fear that we might find ourselves to be pigheaded and stubborn? That we might find mixed motives in our actions? Fear that if we bring our real selves to God, we might be found lacking?
We don’t take these passages in isolation. We can remember that our God, the God of mercy and of grace, is also the one never goes off duty and “will not let your foot slip” (Psalm 121:3).
Take a moment. Bring yourself to God. Listen to the song “nothing to fear” – let those words from God wash over you “what can separate you from my perfect love”.