Last weekend I was on a retreat with the men from my church. We heard from several different people talking about different aspects of being faithful men in our homes, our workplace, our city and our church. We were consistently turned to the Bible as our guide for understanding what God is calling us to as men. The whole experience was a deep and meaningful one and I have found myself, in the days that have followed from there, continually returning to one specific passage we looked at:
Have you read this passage recently? You should take the time. Read the whole chapter; feel the weight of God’s frustration with his people—with us. The fact that God sees us for who we are so clearly (as Jeremiah 2 reveals) and yet still chose to send his Son Jesus to die in our place is incredibly remarkable. We simply don’t deserve this salvation. Jeremiah 2 captures the wandering hearts of God’s sinful people.
God remembers our devotion; our passion when we were young:
Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
“This is what the Lord says:
‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
through a land not sown.’ ”
Remember the days of first believing? Remember that energy and passion? The devotion and excitement we had for God? Remember the love? The problem is we tend not stay by him. Our hearts wander. We stray from him and our energy and commitment fades. We forget and we find ourselves distracted by new and shiny things that promise much and deliver little.
This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.”
God goes on in the verses that follow to make the point that we forget about God. We fail to ask where he might be, what he might be doing in our midst. We forget to look for him. Instead, we exchange him for things that are worthless. We are worshippers; it’s in our DNA, it’s a part of our makeup. There is no getting around that. When we push back on the notion of God and convince ourselves that worshiping him cramps our style, we’re only fooling ourselves. We will worship something. So God asks what fault was found with him that worthless idols were put in his place.
What about us? What fault do we find with God? Does he not come quick enough? Does he not answer our prayers in the way want him to? Does he fail to be so small that we might comprehend everything about why he does as he does and why he doesn’t do as we wish? When we’ve made our lives all about us we will find that God fails to live to the standards we’ve set up.
But we’re not claiming our independence. We’re not “breaking free” from him to live for ourselves. We will worship. We will have a master. If not God, then something—something dead. We will always worship, but our hearts have a tendency to wander, so our worship wanders too.
And did you notice that last sentence of verse 5?
“They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.”
It’s not just about god being mad that we gave our affection to something else. That we trade relationship with the Almighty creator for the creation. It’s the reality that our very value is tied up in God and our completion and fullness are found only in relationship with him. He is our worth. When our worship wanders our relationship with him is broken and we become worthless.
Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
What things am I tempted to worship in God’s place? What else do I put my hope in? What things do I tell myself could make my life different? Better?
We are worshipers, but we are sinful wanders as well. So we must always be on guard for what we are placing our trust in and who we are looking to for identity. Jeremiah 2 has much to say to us about our hearts, our worship, and our wandering. For today, lets us simply consider: have we found fault with God? Have we strayed from him?