December 26, Year B

Inspired by Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15

“The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, ‘You shall die!’” Jeremiah 26:7-8 (NRSV)

God sent Jeremiah with a message for those who worshiped in the house of the Lord. They were, by and large, very comfortable, and they expected their worship experience to make them feel good about themselves and to affirm them in what they were doing in their lives. Jeremiah’s message, however, was that they must repent and turn from their evil ways. It wasn’t what they’d wanted to hear, and they reacted badly to it.

Not much has changed. Many people today want to go and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” even—and especially—if they’re not really doing anything to warrant such affirmation. But if we’re not willing to honestly deal with the requirements of discipleship and hear with humility that we’re getting too comfortable in our favored status as ‘saved,’ then we’re not worshiping the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Salvation is not dependent on works, but if our salvation results in no change in our habits, priorities, or lives, then what have we been saved from? Salvation is not about where we go when we die, but how we’re freed to live here and now. We can live free from bondage to the rat race and of never measuring up to artificial standards of ‘success.’ But in order to do that we must be willing to leave the rat race and stop pursuing worldly success. We must be willing to focus on God first, and prioritize everything else under him and his will. Refusing to hear God’s will means we’re shutting ourselves away from the salvation he’s so freely offered, and we’re not worshiping God, but our own agendas.

Let us pray. God of salvation, your will for us is benevolent, and your ways are just. Grant us the humility to recognize that although we are saved by your grace, we are yet sinners in need of your guidance, so that we may turn away from our own agendas and towards your love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.