The dialogue between God and Jeremiah is fascinating! It is evident that God is a very purposeful God. He does not just create for the sake of creating; He formed creation with a purpose. When He created Jeremiah, He already had Jeremiah’s assignment in place. He then created Jeremiah into his calling. However to Jeremiah it felt like God was setting him up to fail. Listen to what Jeremiah says in verse 6:
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
God was just letting Jeremiah know, what he could be. Even though the message he was asked to deliver was strong and hard, all that Jeremiah would ever need was wrapped up in that calling. The courage he would need to carry or deliver God’s message was in him. The message was in verse 10b:
”Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant”.
This was a very strong message to deliver, but needed to be delivered nevertheless. This message through Jeremiah so many years ago is pertinent to us today. There are certainly things that need to be uprooted and torn down in our age. The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is one amongst many. The question is: what kind of prophets do we need in the church at this time? Musa Dube answers this question as follows
“First, given the grave situation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa, we cannot afford the luxury of prophets who find it difficult to challenge the status quo. The situation demands that we be frank. We are called to face the reality of factors such as gender, poverty; race, culture, age and youth, and the position of powerlessness as significant factors in the spread of HIV/AIDS. We therefore need a church that will be context-oriented and will work like an independent prophet sent by God”.
We see this context-orientated example in Luke 13:11-13, when Jesus was teaching and saw a need. He addressed the need of the woman. The woman was attended to on a Sabbath which went against all religious rules at the time. This is relevance at its best. The affected and infected people go in and out of our places of worship with unaddressed needs while we do church. These people long to hear what God is saying about their situation. There is a lot of uprooting and the tearing down of stigma and violence against women and children that is needed.
Reflection: What are we doing about this situation? What is our message in the church? What are we called to say? The authority that we were given by God, does it help anybody? Do we stop in the middle of our series or services to address the issue at hand as Jesus did? Or do we continue with our programmes and ignore the issues of rape and abuse that are taking place in the same community where we serve God and his people?
Written By: Nobuntu Penxa-Matholeni, Community Liason Coordinator.. The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation