Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: Jeremiah 9:1-26, Jeremiah 10:1-15, Jeremiah 26:1-24, Romans 1:25, Acts 5:34-41, Acts 17:30.
“We are so much wiser now.” You’ve probably heard people say those very words. In fact, that sentiment is expressed over and over in every generation. Confident that we will avoid the mistakes of the past, we plow ahead with an arrogance that plunges us right into the rut of the experience of those who have gone before us. This week Facebook is filled with posts regarding the Starbucks holiday cup controversy.1 People saw the new cup design as an affront to Christianity and began posting on Facebook and Twitter, enlisting the support of all Christians.2
While many people joined in, others were just as angry about why the controversy was happening in the first place. Responding to the incidents and postings with questions about what Christians could do to share Christ during this season, some felt embarrassment about so much energy being spent on a coffee cup. Have God’s people been sidetracked before? Do we sometimes become so caught up in the moment that we forget our real purpose? How does protesting over cups draw the world closer to the God we love and worship? Could there be a better way? Perhaps that better way is not new either. Maybe there is an old message that is the answer to our new questions.
As one studies the Sabbath School lesson this week, one might wonder why God’s people couldn’t get it right. How could they not realize the benefits of following the loving God who was so willing to rescue them from their lives of sin? Jeremiah shared God’s message and was met with threats of death. The people to whom Jeremiah was relaying this message from God, were more interested in what was happening in the world around them, in worshiping idols, than they were about pleasing God. Their worship had mutated from devotion to the true God to a fixation on lifeless, manmade objects.
While idols are probably not our temptation, we may fail in the same way that the people of Judah failed by not looking to God for wisdom, for understanding, for direction. Jeremiah was released, not because the people believed his message, but because of fear of the consequences if they harmed an innocent prophet. It happened again with the early church. In the same way that Jeremiah was briefly given a reprieve, the apostles were released because of one’s wise judgement, not because their message was believed.
The people of Judah rushed into following the world, to doing what seemed right to them, and in the process they turned their backs on God, who in loving concern reached out to them and reaches out to us. “But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone, that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love…” Jeremiah 9:24 NLT. Jeremiah demonstrated that love through his continued pleading with the people of Judah. How can we demonstrate that love to the world around us?
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