Later King Zedekiah sent for him and questioned Jeremiah secretly in the palace: “Is there a word from the Lord?”
“There is,” Jeremiah replied. “You are going to be handed over to the king of Babylon.” Then Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah, “What have I done wrong to you or your attendants or this people that you should throw me into prison?” Jeremiah 37:17-18 (CEB)
As a writer, I often skim through articles, blogs, and books about marketing. Truth be told, I can’t stand marketing–the whole process smacks of disingenuousness and manipulation. I prefer to be straight-forward; here’s my book, you can read it or not. In all of the marketing literature I’ve studied and ignored, there are two key points:
- story matters
- your message needs to be on point
Part of developing a successful brand is maintaining a message that is “on point”. This means that the message is consistent, regardless of how it’s delivered. Successful brands clearly articulate why their product matters. And, that message stays the same over time. Take Apple computers, for instance. From the very beginning, Apple’s message has been that Apple products combine innovative technology and quality performance for a superior technological product. And, consumers totally bought into the message (me included!). Why pay more for an Apple computer? It’s state-of-the art and top-quality. Why pay more for an iPod? It’s-state of the-art and top-quality. Why pay more for an iPhone? It’s state-of -the art and top-quality. You get the idea…consistency and continuity matter when it comes to messaging.
Jeremiah understood this concept. His message was always on point, even when he was chased, beaten, and falsely imprisoned. In fact, his message was so on point that when King Zedekiah sent for him in the middle of the night for a “secret” meeting, Jeremiah delivered the message in a seemingly offhand fashion and moved on to a different subject.
“Is there a word from the Lord?” Zedekiah asks.
“Sure. You’re going to be overthrown by Babylon. Now, about my unjust imprisonment…”
Jeremiah had delivered this message so many times it was old hat. I imagine his annoyance and impatience at being asked the same question over and over and over again. It’s the same way I feel when my boys ask me what time it is…every ten minutes.
Jeremiah’s message was the same day-after-day, year-after-year. This is because God’s message is unchanging. God’s message is always on point. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, God’s message is clear and consistent. God created us. God loves us. God wants to redeem us.
In a society that continually rejects the idea of truth, it’s important to remember that God’s message has (and will) always been the same. Therefore, as followers of Christ, we need to take a cue from Jeremiah. Our message, indeed, our faith walk, must be consistent with God’s message. While we might differ on the finer points of faith (baptism, communion, worship style) we must maintain clarity and consistency on the key points: God created us. God loves us. God wants to redeem us.
There are a lot of mixed messages about faith in the media-verse. Christianity is a multi-billion dollar industry, after all. So, how do we know if a message is truly from God? Scripture is the ultimate litmus test. I’m not talking about proof-texting–pulling random scripture passages out of context that support an opinion about faith. I’m talking about the overall message: God created us, God loves us, God wants to redeem us.
It’s important to ask ourselves the following questions when discerning messages about and from God.
- Is the writer/speaker/musician’s message on point with God’s overall message in Scripture?
- Does a writer/speaker/musician’s claim about God ring true with Jesus’ message in the Gospels?
- Is my understanding of this message consistent with God’s overall message in Scripture, especially the Gospels?
Keep in mind, you might not always agree with everyone’s theology, worship style, faith traditions, or even political stances. However, that doesn’t mean that believers with opposing viewpoints are wrong, as long as the message itself (God created us. God loves us. God wants to redeem us.) is on point. There are several Christian evangelists, writers, and even musicians who have opinions and positions on topics I don’t agree with. However, if their overall message is on point with God’s message in Scripture, I can respect that.
This week, consider the messages you are sending and receiving about God. Are you living in a way that shows others God created us, God loves us, God wants to redeem us? Are you using Scripture to discern messages about and from God? How can you work to make sure your message, like Jeremiah’s, is on point?
Blessings and Peace,