A lesson in apologetics from Jeremiah
[The Lord said,] "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,Jeremiah 1:5-8
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth."
But the LORD said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am a youth,'
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.
Isn't it strange that some of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament were afraid to speak when God called them to do so? Moses, possibly the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, when standing before the burning bush was told by God "I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:10) Moses, not wanting to go, made a similar plea to Jeremiah's saying: "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." (Exodus 4:10) How did God respond to Moses? Much in the same way that he responded to Jeremiah: "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say." (Exodus 4:11-12) Both Jeremiah and Moses were told that God will be with them and teach them what to say.
We have a similar charge to go to the world and speak for God today. In his last charge to his disciples, Matthew reports Jesus said the following:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you . . . .Matthew 28:19-20a.
It is important to note that this is a call to all disciples of Christ--you, me, and everyone else who has accepted Jesus as their Lord. I think David Brown from Jamison, Fawcett and Brown's on-line Biblical Commentary described the breadth of the Great Commission rightly:
Now, Was all this meant to be done by the Eleven men nearest to Him of the multitude then crowding around the risen Redeemer? Impossible. Was it to be done even in their lifetime? Surely not. In that little band Jesus virtually addressed Himself to all who, in every age, should take up from them the same work. Before the eyes of the Church's risen Head were spread out, in those Eleven men, all His servants of every age; and one and all of them received His commission at that moment.
So, you have been called to tell the world about Jesus and to teach them about His grace? Are you? Are you speaking to others about Jesus and what He has done for you? Are you telling everyone about how you won a prize bigger than the Powerball Lottery, but unlike the Powerball with its 20 million to 1 odds, this is a jackpot that everyone can win? Or are you being like Jeremiah and Moses, saying "I'm not much of a speaker, and so I would like God to appoint others to go in my place." If you are like that, you need to remember that God does not send you out alone. To Moses he said, "I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say." To Jeremiah, God said: "Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you." And he gives the same promise to us: ". . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 20b.
You see, the calling of God to go to all nations is not for the other guy. It isn't for those who are specially gifted in that area. It is a call to every one of us. And if you go out to the world, starting with your own neighborhood, and try to make disciples of all people, you have Jesus' promise that he will be with you. This doesn't mean that your neighbors won't despise you and turn you away for speaking the Gospel to them. After all, you are bringing the truth to them--a truth that they don't want to hear. A truth that we (meaning, all sinners) nailed to the cross approximately 2000 years ago. Remember the words of Jesus:
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.John 15:18-27
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, 'THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.'
"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Remember always that being a Christian is about loving someone enough to tell them the truth--even when they don't want to hear it. Moreover, Jesus points out that "you will testify [about me] also, because you have been with me from the beginning." If you are a disciple of Christ, you will testify about Him. Its that simple. And even though you are afraid (and there is cause to be afraid), you will (with the help of the Holy Spirit) be able to overcome that fear for you have the promise of Jesus that He is with you.
Go and proclaim boldly.