Since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic we have heard a lot of messages from our spiritual leaders. At first most of us looked at Matthew 24, comparing the signs of the end as Jesus described them, to what is happening in the world right now. Another frequently quoted passage of the Bible has been 2 Corinthians 7:13-14, which talks about God’s people returning to God after judgements, and God healing the land again.
I, too, went to those scriptures, seeking answers, like everybody else. But God soon directed me towards the book of Jeremiah. For the last few weeks, I have been reading, studying and praying about the words of the weeping prophet.
One thing in particular has been standing out to me – throughout the book of Jeremiah he rebukes the priests and the false prophets over and over again for their lies and false promises to the people.
Who are prophets and priests? What are they to us? They are the spiritual leadership God has given to us. It is the prophet’s job to point his finger at us and tell us when we are doing something wrong. It is his job to bring correction to us.
The priests were responsible for the spiritual well-being of the people and they made atonement for the sins of the people by offering sacrifices to God. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, but our pastors are still the ones who take care of our spiritual growth and well-being. They have the right to call us out on our sin.
If I don’t tell my children when they are doing something they are not supposed to do, if I don’t teach them right from wrong, how would they know? Who would show them the right way?
Our pastors are our spiritual fathers and mothers and we would do well to listen their correction.
The problem that Jeremiah was talking about though was that the very people who were supposed to help and guide us were the ones who lied to the people and instead of calling them out on their wicked ways, they were just as wicked.
The head gives the direction in which we go, so if our spiritual leadership – or even our secular leaders – lead us the wrong way, where does that leave us?
In the time of the prophet Jeremiah the people followed their leadership and those that spoke out against it, that spoke the truth, were rejected, ridiculed and even persecuted and imprisoned. Yet Jeremiah continued to warn the people that at some point judgement was coming if they didn’t turn from their wicked ways.
This is not to say that the Coronavirus is a judgement from God, or demonic, or manmade so that power hungry people can push us closer towards a new world order. We all have our opinions and I don’t want to debate one option over the other right now, but I think we can all agree that it is a calamity. People have lost their lives, our economy is crippled, our rights have been infringed upon, etc.
There have been leaders like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and Perry Stone, just to mention a few, who have been consistently warning us, that we are on a slippery slope and that at some point judgement would come.
Rabbi Cahn has said time and time again that if we truly are the light of the world, why has it gotten so dark around us? If we are the salt of the earth, why has everything around us gotten so rotten?
We can’t deny that our culture and our society has been shifting for years. What used to be called right and good is now more and more being called wrong and evil, and vise versa.
While there have been voices crying out in warning, there have also been leaders who rather tickle the ears of their people. Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 that this was going to happen: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
I’m not calling out anybody in particular, but let’s just be perfectly honest. None of us like it very much when we are told that what we are doing is wrong. Today people get offended so easily that we don’t want correction. We refuse to hear it. Instead we want to be told that it’s ok and we are fine. We say, “don’t judge me” and we even try to use scripture to justify that. We tell people who call us out for doing wrong “haters” and “bigots”. We don’t want to hear the truth if it means that we may have to face our own shortcomings. It’s easier to point fingers at other people than ourselves.
Let me explain what I mean. In my job I get two evaluations per year. My boss sits me down and he tells me what he thinks of my performance. He judges me based on certain requirements for my job, but also on how I handle things on a personal level. How I interact with my coworkers, how I handle confrontation, etc.
I had a great evaluation with the exception of one certain point. As he was criticizing me, I was getting angry and I began to justify myself. Basically, I pointed fingers at other people to explain why I had done what I did.
He just sat back and smiled at me, letting me rant, and then told me the reason why he was smiling was because it was his turn to tell me what he saw in me and where I could improve but instead I cut him off and told him all the reasons why it was ok to act the way I did.
I was reminded of something I tell my kids all the time – you are not responsible for their action but for your reaction to their actions.
So, I stopped and listened to what he had to say. He stepped on my toes. A lot. But I took it to heart and worked on myself and when it was time for my next evaluation, he told me that he had seen the improvement in that area. He had watched me learn from my mistakes and accept his correction and he was pleased with me.
Stop getting angry when your pastor steps on your toes. It’s his job. He would be doing you an injustice by not telling you that you are sinning. Stop persecuting the prophets and silencing their voices when they give us a warning that we are heading down the wrong way. It’s their job.
I would rather have my spiritual leaders step on my toes and guide me towards heaven, then have them sugarcoat me into hell. And as a nation, we need our spiritual leaders to step up and not be afraid of getting shut down or their livestream cut off because they said something that may be offensive to some people. The truth is always offensive when you don’t want to hear it. It’s ok. We need it anyways!
A young minister I know once said that when God corrects you, it’s like a gut punch and a hug all at the same time. It hurts so good.
Correction from God is not a bad thing, it’s a good and necessary thing, so stop listening to false teachers and instead allow the true men and women of God in your life to do their job. They do it because they love you!