Read Jeremiah 3:11-14
11 The LORD said to me,”Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go,proclaim this message toward the north:
“‘Return,faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD,
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt-
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favours to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,'”
declares the LORD.
14 “Return,faithless people,” declares the LORD,”for I am your husband. I will choose you-one from a town and two from a clan-and bring you to Zion. (NIV)
The writer Lew Smedes once wrote that we are defined by the commitments we dare to make and care to keep. Commitments are risky. We marry for better or worse hoping it will be more the former than the latter. We raise children and commit ourselves to them in the hope they will bring more blessing than burden to us. We commit ourselves to a cause not always knowing if it will bring about the desired result. When we make a commitment we are not guaranteed a happy ending.
God certainly knows this. He committed himself to his chosen people and they turned their back on him. In this text he addresses the northern part of the divided kingdom,that part still called Israel. He invites them to renew their commitment to him. He longs to have them back. But history tells us that this longing was largely unfulfilled.
And yet we make commitments. If we do not do so,we are set loose to drift amidst a sea of shifting allegiances and temporary connections. We throw ourselves into a relationship and just as quickly escape from it when things don’t turn out as we wish. It is no way to live. Rather,we model ourselves on our God who dares to make and cares to keep his commitments to us.
He knows,as we know,that a commitment invites much pleasure and not a little pain. Yet God keeps his commitments to us and invites us to imitate him and so experience the pleasure and pain of being fully human.