Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
Some hard words in the lectionary for this coming Sunday; all in all it appears that God is about troubling the comfortable. We have words from Jeremiah, Paul and Jesus, all focusing on the same thing; it’s simple but not easy. Jeremiah the prophet is lamenting, which is something he is quiet good at doing. Jeremiah has been a prophet for some time and is beginning to realize that this job may not be as glamorous as described in the brochure. “Sure, I’ll be God’s prophet. Proclaim God’s word to the people, absolutely. No problem. Glad and honored to do it.” That’s what Jeremiah said when he was a young man. Now has a more seasoned prophet he is coming into the awareness that when people are comfortable with a certain “understanding” of God, they have no desire to hear what God has to say. People, even today, like their God to think and act like them. That’s what happened with Peter in the Matthew text. Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, but to be the type of Messiah that Peter wanted, not the Messiah that God intended. Jesus, being God’s prophet, quickly and sharply told him how wrong he was, called him Satan. Peter was comfortable with a Jesus that was going to be victorious over Romans, not crucified by them. Peter didn’t get the whole picture, until later.
Paul sums it up nicely, do not conform be transformed. God intends us to be different. The very commandment given to us by Jesus, LOVE your neighbor, makes us different. People today who want a limited God, or worse seek to limit God stop reading after “be transformed.” They don’t continue with the text “by the renewal of your mind.” God intends that we be a thinking people, that we not be passive sheep that are never changing, never renewing. Growth calls for change. Hearing the words of a prophet of God, taking them in should change us. Transform us. Heart and mind. That’s a challenge of the faith.
It could be a thin place.