“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
They do not even know how to blush.” Jeremiah 9:12
We are going to begin a new Wednesday Worship series in two weeks on the book of Jeremiah…for those not familiar with Jeremiah it is a challenging book because as one commentator describes, Jeremiah is like a man awaken from a nightmare and realizing that the nightmare is coming true, so he boldly tries to grab hold of his listeners attention. The above passage is a great example of that: He sees that people are no longer embarrassed by actions and attitudes; they continue walking down the same path unaware of how it is impacting their lives, those around them and their relationship to God. Doing the same thing over and over again, and nothing changes.
In Mere Christianity from the 1950s, CS Lewis writes, “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man” This is what Jeremiah is trying to awaken them to see.
Critical to a maturing faith is a self-awareness that things just aren’t right in our souls. There is a difference between righteous guilt and self-destructive guilt. Righteous guilt is a gnawing sensation that you missed the turn and are heading in the wrong direction; it’s a helpful sensation, but does require the humility to admit your mistake and turn around. Self-destructive guilt is a perpetual self-loathing that there is no hope or that you could never find the correct way to go. Jeremiah’s words are of the first kind, he wants to awaken us.
What is the place you want to be? Are you heading in the right direction? What attitudes and actions might you need to turn away from to get there quicker?