Jeremiah 5: Christian in Name
Jeremiah was living in a time not much different than our own time in America. Look at how chapter five begins, and I think you’ll notice some things.
Jer 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
Jer 5:2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.
Jer 5:3 O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
Jer 5:4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.
There are a few things to notice here. First, the first two verses actually sound more like Sodom and Gomorrah. In that situation, Abraham was asking God to save the cities on behalf of a decreasing number of righteous people, but those people could not be found. It is obvious that Jerusalem had really fallen off, but verse two is why I am making a comparison to America.
Many people will culturally say that they believe in God, and they might even go to church regularly. However, that isn’t the entire story. Without that relationship with Jesus Christ, you really aren’t a child of God.
The belief in God has become simply cultural in many cases, but not in the way that many of us wish it would. If everyone had a sincere belief in Jesus Christ, I would obviously be very happy, but this kind of culture where people acknowledge a name but don’t live in accordance with that belief is even more damaging.
Think about America. It has been culturally Christian for hundreds of years, and now that is being challenged. Because people spent so many years being complacent and using Christianity as nothing more than a label, they fall away when they are challenged on the basics of Christianity. They don’t know how to answer the challenges from other belief systems, and because they have no more reason than the fact that everyone did it, we have a lot of falling away.
The answer to this dilemma is somewhat proposed in verses three and four. These people were totally tuned out to God, and that was the problem. Therefore, it makes sense that staying in touch with God is a big deal. Yes, we want Christianity to influence how we interact with the world, and if enough people do that, it will certainly have an impact on culture. However, we come to a dangerous point if people are professing Christ simply because that is the cultural norm. It needs to be an actual decision that people are actually committed to living out.