Before his death in 1984, Francis Schaeffer developed what some have called a “theology of disagreement.” Schaeffer never abandoned his position that the true mark of a Christian is the ability to love unconditionally, yet he was also convinced that one cannot really love without hating the opposite of what one loves.
Schaeffer was not the first to articulate a “theology of disagreement.” He was largely indebted to a man who lived some 2700 years before Schaeffer and who made a “theology of disagreement” a science. His name was Jeremiah, and when you really get to know this man, you discover that he was not a cantankerous sort of fellow whose teeth were on edge, always wanting to pick a fight to get his name in the headlines.
He was a sensitive, caring individual intent on doing the will of God no matter what it cost him, and it cost him plenty.
Why was Jeremiah almost always on the unpopular side of issues? Because that’s where God was, and no matter what the cost, Jeremiah came down on God’s side. He said, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.” He said, “I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). He didn’t hold it in, either. He spoke fluently, boldly and without consideration of who would be displeased at what he said.
Jeremiah was called by God to be a spokesman, calling God’s people back to Himself. And when they refused to budge, Jeremiah told them the price they had to pay. He became a hated, despised individual, persecuted and belittled. He was thrown into prison, put in stocks, even thrown in a slime pit or a tar pit and left to die; but a foreigner, an Ethiopian, rescued him from the clutches of death (see Jeremiah 38).
Was his the only voice that was denouncing the corruption of his day? Not at all! Contemporary with Jeremiah were voices such as Ezekiel and Daniel, both young men. Ezekiel, a fellow priest, was preaching in Babylon. Daniel was in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. Habakkuk and Zephaniah were working alongside Jeremiah in Jerusalem. Nahum was announcing the fall of Nineveh, and Obadiah was predicting the ruin of neighboring Edom.
What does this have to do with your life today? Are there qualities in the life of this man that we ought to emulate? Have we become so intimidated by what is happening around us that we fear the consequences of speaking out against the vile corruption of our day? Have we become so fearful of the hostility of those who accuse us of being intolerant that we hide for fear of drawing their wrath?
There is one thing which you must never forget. The God who told Jeremiah not to fear because He was with Him makes that same promise to His child who has the courage to denounce wrong when truth is on the scaffolds.
Is there an issue of personal holiness in your life that God is calling you take a stand for? Are there issues in your community you know you must speak out on? Read the book which bears his name, found in your Bible. The strength of Jeremiah can be yours too!
Resource Reading: Jeremiah 38:1-13
Text: The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved. Jeremiah 8:20
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – July 4, 2017