Jeremiah 3:6-14 (NRSV)
The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says the Lord.
By John Grimm
The Bible does get our attention. The title for this devotion comes from this passage. Yet, as we read the title over and over, we are offended. We have not acted like Israel or Judah. We say we have not used stone and tree to make idols to worship other gods.
Judah (the Southern Kingdom, which included Jerusalem) saw the faithless ways of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Israel was carried away by the Assyrians in 726 B.C. Around 586 B.C., Judah was going to be carried away by the Babylonians. Why was Judah going to be carried away, deported from the land of Judah? Because it was only in pretense, in name only, that Judah returned to the Lord.
God has been calling repeatedly to America since Sept. 11, 2001. We can return to the Lord. Returning to the Lord cannot be done only with words, in name only. Our faithfulness to God must overwhelm our lives so our actions show we love God with our whole hearts. Our faithfulness to God can be seen in how we love our neighbors as ourselves.
Judging from all the evidence in America today, we have not returned to the Lord God with our whole hearts. We may still be in our whoredom.
Holy Spirit, thank you for being patient with America. Your patience allows us to return with our whole hearts to the Lord. We hear about Jesus Christ and believe he is a good teacher. Yet, when we believe Jesus is the Son of God come in the flesh, we find the beginning of salvation. Work in us so that we see and live in the faithfulness of God, the salvation God offers us. We ask that our faithfulness to God be demonstrated by our whole hearts. May the name of Jesus Christ be found in us before it is too late. Amen.