15 March 2018

Jeremiah 20:7-13

“For I hear many whispering: “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble.” (v. 10)

Psalm: Psalm 119:17-32


Who is on the Lord’s side?’ go the words of an old hymn. The expectation is that the congregation will respond, ‘We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour we are thine’. No question is asked. Unconditional acceptance is expected. What concerns me is not the response, nor its unconditional nature, but the sheer lack of thought and consideration as to what this acceptance might mean. And we are led into it by the stirring tune we are singing. It is symptomatic of those whose stereotypical conversation starter is “Are you saved?”. Faith says I am. “But for what?” I want to ask. “And at what cost?” Not so much that cost of life borne on the cross, but the cost to me. The last decade or so has been marked for me by the presence of the whistleblower – from someone who exposes sexual exploitation to the international ramifications of wiki-leaks.

So often it feels that the confession of faith that we make is not evidenced in our public conversation, attitudes or actions.

If we seek to model ourselves on the life of Jesus we will speak out against abuse and injustice, we will uncover hypocrisy, we will speak for the poor. And like those who wanted to condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), as we do this we will do it as though looking in a mirror, seeing our own failings and shortcomings.

And here comes the crunch, when we are really effective Christians I sense that life will be much less comfortable for us than it is now or than we ever anticipated. Others will be looking out for us to stumble, ready to point the finger, to trip us up and to denounce us. Not a comfortable ride. Saved? For what? A cross? Who is on the Lord’s side…?

To Ponder

  • Does your Christian witness ever make you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable? How far is this a good or a bad thing?
  • If you feel vulnerable, how do you defend those of other faiths who are exposed to abuse or derision? And should you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,300 hymns.