Religiously ‘easy’

Nov 13, 2014 by

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Some passages are almost impossible to imagine preaching a sermon on: People of God, you are like a donkey in heat, like a dog that goes around humping table legs (Jer. 2:24).  Kudos to Jeremiah for courage — I can’t imagine that message went over well.

Be that as it may, the charge is a compelling one: many of us are religiously “easy.” With nothing offered to us, nothing given, nothing proven, nothing promised, we essentially drop pants and give ourselves to the first god passing by. (Forgive the crudeness, but the shock is part of Jeremiah’s point). And the worst part is that not only do we give ourselves away, but we say, “I can’t help it! I’m in love.” In love with one who has given or promised us nothing at all, who has treated us with not an ounce of love, dignity or respect.

The implication by contrast clearly seems to be that the true God is the one who is willing to work for it, for us. In fact, the rest of Jeremiah 2 makes the case that the God of Israel has done exactly that. He has offered safety in the desert. He’s offered a rich and fertile homeland. He has bound himself to a real, committed marriage. He is even described as “glorious” (verse 11 — surely the divine version of “handsome”).

The call to Israel seems clear: Demand a God who is willing to work for it! Demand a God who will show up! Don’t give yourself away for nothing to the first god who passes by. Hold out for a God who gives so much more than he takes. Hold out for a ring, the promise of a committed forever. Hold out for a glory worth panting for. Hold out for an arm strong enough to protect. When it comes to your faith, of all places in life, you should surely be a little bit hard to get.

How often we do exactly as this passage suggests — we give ourselves away so cheaply. We give ourselves to idols that are dressed in glittering clothes but are covered with scabs underneath. We give ourselves to things that have nothing to offer us, that enslave and abuse us, that treat us like dirt. We give ourselves to gods that will desert us, leave us empty and alone, at the first sign of genuine need.

When God says, “Choose me over your idols,” what God is really saying is this:

Choose beauty. Choose fidelity, the joy of getting old together. Choose a shared bank account and access to all my vault of treasures. Choose passion. Choose the one who will give his life for yours. Choose the one who will pursue you to the ends of Earth.

When you start to wrap your mind around a proposal like that, idolatry begins to seem exactly as crazy as God thinks it is.

Meghan Larissa Good is pastor of Albany (Ore.) Mennonite Church. She writes at where this first appeared.

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