Tuesday, April 4, 2017

LEGACYouth: Now That’s Progressive

Context: In this chapter of Jeremiah, we find impending disaster for Jerusalem. Need proof? Check out the opening line: “Flee for safety, O people of Benjamin from the midst of Jerusalem!” Not exactly the most calming intro in the world, right? Later we read more specifically the war and destruction coming against Jerusalem and the peace she once possessed. 

However, in the middle of the chapter, we also find a familiar theme unfolding in God giving his people an opportunity to repent…to consider his ways (v. 16-20). 

Let’s read…

Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV) - This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16 (ESV) - Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16-20 (MSG) - God’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’ I even provided watchmen for them to warn them, to set off the alarm. But the people said, ‘It’s a false alarm. It doesn’t concern us.’

So clearly we see a freaked out people freaking out…fleeing town as quickly as possible from the approaching chaos. Imagine trying to hitch a ride out of Dodge and suddenly a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ guy screams at you to slow down and stop for directions? I’m sure many thought Jeremiah was completely cra-cra!

Yet, Jeremiah wasn’t trying to distract. He was trying to exact God’s will in the moment (i.e. Here’s the real way out of this situation! Let’s walk in it).

Essentially, what Jeremiah was doing was being progressive in a way people couldn’t understand. And when we consider our western world, I think we can find some comparisons to those escaping Jerusalem.

How many of you know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know our culture prides itself on being “progressive” in the sense we’re  the fastest-paced generation in history? 

Not to suggest that’s a bad thing. Certainly there are pros in being equipped technologically and relationally to reach further than ever before. However, it’s important to note ‘progressive’ as our culture understands it has more to do than just the ‘pace’ by which we live, but also the manner by which we believe. 

Seriously, how often do we see people adopting a paradigm based on what’s culturally acceptable as opposed to what’s spiritually absolute? More than we probably realize, right?

But truth is: we weren’t made to let current trends and hot topics reset our truth compass. Contrarily, we were made to be a counter-cultural people submissive yet not subversive. In the world, but not of it (John 17:16). 

Often, it’s easy for us to ask God what to do and then be uncomfortable with what he’s said because it seems contrary to where our world currently is, what the world says we should want, what we want or think is right, etc. Yet, when we consider what real righteousness looks like, we find it’s not built upon asking God for the right thing, but rather asking God for the resolve (the obedience) to do the right thing in moment and in lifestyle no matter what the cost.

I know sometimes we wish there was a formula for following God or an online tutorial on “best believer practices”; however, since faith is designed to permeate all of who we are, it makes sense we why we can’t ‘progress’ our own way to following Christ (and becoming more like him).

So when we turn to Jeremiah 6:16 and consider its application, we note to stand by the road, or the cross-road (i.e.  the point of decision in a journey) is the first step into understanding whether or not God is calling us to walk down it.  Again, it’s easy for us to keep looking for the new, the things that push the edge…or rather the things that push us over the edge. Our culture is based on this – viral videos & memes, thought provoking concepts, self-promotional tools, etc. But the ways of God don’t change with culture. They’re not rooted in what elevates our esteem or what contradicts his heart for us. Rather they’re rooted in how he sees being progressive…fearlessly yielding to know his ways…to know the ancient path as Jeremiah describes.

What is the ancient path?

Micah 6:8 (MSG) But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 
1)       Love deeply from a pure place (Love kindness)

2)       Stand firmly for truth and justice (Do justice)

3)       Act from a place of mercy and grace (Walk humbly with God)

Perhaps you’re still wondering what’s the point of all this. I’ll ‘four up’ that by giving you five from Jeremiah 6:16…and in doing so, better capturing ‘progressive’ from God’s perspective…

 
5 points from Jeremiah 6:16
1. Keep calm & slow down

You can’t stand unless you’ve stopped first. I think for many of us we want our ‘standing’ to be the ‘moving walkway’ variety. We’ll stop knowing we’re still getting somewhere, right? However, what’s missing with this type of standing? Stillness!

Psalm 46 & 62 in a nutshell tells us to be still and know God is who he says he is…to find rest in where our hope and salvation come from him. Habakkuk hints that silencing ourselves allows us to better recognize God’s holiness.
2. Look around - don't be in a hurry. Stop and engage.
 
I think many of us jump in here at #2 without doing #1. The problem is: if we don’t stop and slow down first, then instead of looking around and not being in a hurry, we’ll look around and ‘OMG’ I must worry. See the difference?


 
Stop and engage. And if you can’t stop for whatever reason at least slow down and… 

 
3. Ask for the ‘ancient paths’ (i.e. pray for direction).

How do we do this?
  • Tell God that you trust Him with all your heart, and that you don’t want to rely on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Claim God’s promise to instruct you, to teach you in the way you should go… (Psalm 32:8)
  • Affirm to God that all your ways are pure in your own eyes, and that you have trouble seeing your own errors.  (Proverbs 16:2)
  • Echo Jesus’ words: “I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent me.” Let God know that you just want what He wants, and ask Him to reveal that to you in His timing. (John 5:30)
  • Let God know that you’re asking for guidance, seeking His will… (Matthew 7:7-8)
  • Ask God for a humble spirit, and remind Him of His promise to lead the humble in what is right, and to teach the humble his way. (Proverbs 25:9)
  • Pray these words from Psalms: “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
  • Praise God for being your rock and your fortress. Profess His promise to lead you and guide you for His name’s sake. (Psalm 31:3)
  • Ask God to teach you His way, and commit to walking in His truth. Beg Him to give you an undivided heart to fear His name. (Psalm 86:11)
4. Walk - Once you know, it's time to move. Get out of your comfort zone and walk it out. Believe that God can do anything. 

In other words, don’t stop to stay stopped. After all, you stop and slow for the sake of maturing as a disciple and disciple-maker (which we implies motion; see Great Commission – “go forth and preaching the gospel…” whether it’s into all the world or the classroom hallway). 

5. Rest - Not only taking time to temporarily find refreshment, but taking time to cultivate a lifestyle of restoration. 

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