Some time ago a parent was lamenting his wayward child. “Where did we go wrong? He was at church every Sunday, active in the youth group, at Bible camp every summer, and we even sent him to a christian university! How could he leave the church?”
I often refer to these things as “touch stones.” We feel as long as we have them, we’ll be ok. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless a child reads the word of God, and takes the message into his heart, all the Sunday schools and christian universities and religious experiences in the world will do no good.
Neither should we believe that as long as we have programs such as these that the Church will be in good hands. There are far too many Christians who are more interested in maintaining the icons of their faith (revivals, church meetings, outreach programs etc.) than they are in exhibiting faith in their life. This is the problem of chapter 26. Jeremiah has already mentioned this attitude in chapter 7: the people oppress immigrants, refuse to care for the elderly and the orphan, and, in general, care nothing for anything worth caring about. Yet, they have the temple, and they go there regularly, and they really feel they are “safe” (see chapter 7).
Jeremiah, in the temple court, calls his hearers to proper obedience, an obedience that springs from the heart and focuses on a lifestyle God cares about – or God will remove all their “touchstones,” including the temple and their precious city and nation. His hearers respond with a threat of murder. Can you not see the irony here? The faithful believe that murder is an act of righteousness!!
Christian people must hear the message of Jeremiah. We cannot do “religious things” while drinking political venom from our airways and think we are ok. We cannot confuse patriotism with faithfulness to God. We cannot behave badly to preserve orthodoxy. There is no salvation for those who persist in such a course, only certain and sure doom.