Can you hear Jeremiah calling?

I talked to a modern "Jeremiah" today. (Okay, that's not this real name, but humor me!) He may not be the Jeremiah of the Old Testament, but he sure spoke like him. He's not quite as young as that Old Testament prophet was, but his exuberance is just as strong.The Jeremiah of the Bible prophesied with certainty; his words were delivered to him by God. My modern "Jeremiah"? He's connected to God by the very water and Word that connects each of the redeemed to Christ. My listening ear heard echoes of the haunting caution that God delivered through Jeremiah to Judah (though they did not listen). Like the Old Testament prophet, my "Jeremiah" has no doubt been inspired to speak the truth with conviction.When I talked to "Jeremiah" today, we talked life. This wasn't "How are the kids?", "How's your work?" kind of life talk. This was LIFE talk -- deep conversation about life lived in the shadow of the cross, life lived in opposition to the decaying culture around us, life that moves God's people to acts of courage and conviction.When the Old Testament Jeremiah spoke, it wasn't pleasant talk. The prophet spoke about repentance -- real life-changing, turn-around-living repentance, not just a sheepish "I'm sorry." The Bible's Jeremiah talked about the power of God, the Creator of all things. He talked about the pending destruction of Judah if they would not repent. Such harsh proclamations and stern warnings marked Jeremiah as a prophet of doom.One could think the same about my "Jeremiah" today. He spoke of how American society is beginning to equate Christianity with hate speech and discrimination. He described how, in a very short time, traditional marriage has been framed as old fashioned and impractical -- certainly no better than other kinds of "love." Religious liberty? Beliefs might be practiced in private, but there's no longer a place for faith in public life. Life in the womb? Not valued. Protecting others? Even our policemen are targeted while serving us.This modern "Jeremiah" and I talked about strategies for believers in such times. What should we do? What should we say? How should we live? Should we give in to the prevailing culture that's increasingly hostile to our faith? After all, there's nothing we can do, right? There's no hope. My Jeremiah confidently answered, "No. There is hope."As we talked, I heard echoes of the Old Testament Jeremiah's words of confident hope spoken at many confirmation rites: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13).My contemporary "Jeremiah" said it is time for us to repent. It's time for us to seek God with all our hearts.We are all guilty of apathy. Too few of us have spoken up to protest the killing of tens of millions of pre-born children by abortion, even after recent videos documented the barbaric harvesting of their organs for financial gain. Too few of us have spoken up in defense of religious liberty, even in the face of real and present threats acknowledged by the U.S. Solicitor General and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We must repent.As believers in Jesus Christ, we can no longer ignore the signs of the times. It is time to repent, to pray, and to act. For starters, I suggest the following: Immerse yourself and your family in the resources God gives to each of us. Go to church every weekend and bring your family. This is no simple request. Worship is needed -- it's where God's gifts are -- His Word and the Sacraments. Don't neglect them. "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12). We need something more than our mortal selves in this battle. Share the faith with your family, and go beyond "Jesus loves me." Share the substance and power of the Gospel. Teach them a mature faith. Show them how to live life as a sacrifice of love in His name. Make your voice heard. Last year, state legislators told me that they were beat up by opponents of school choice, but rarely heard from us. We will not let that happen again, will we? In the weeks to come, we will deliver content that you can share. I hope you will share boldly and speak up with confidence. Partner with groups who advocate for what is right and good and just. For instance, join me in supporting Lutherans for Life.Build up your Lutheran school leaders with words of support. Our Lutheran teachers and school administrators are vital allies in raising up the next generation of believers. Encourage them. Talk to your pastor. Ask for information about being a strong Christian at home, at work, and in the community. Dust off your copy of Luther's Small Catechism. Luther wrote it for you.I hope you hear Jeremiah calling out to you. It's a call for action.Peace and joy,Mark MuehlDirector