In a recent conversation online the question came to me about Jeremiah 1 and a devotion that I had posted on The Shepherd's Voice Blog. In that I had taken the words to Jeremiah about God's knowing him in his mother's womb and reflecting on how God knows us that way also. In writing that I had never thought how that might sound strange to those that are not believers. The idea of being known before you were born is something that Jews and Christians assume to be true and self-evident. If you believe in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God that has created everything the thought of being known prior to your birth or even your conception is assumed. Of course this text applies to Jeremiah in the calling, but the knowing applies to all of God's creation.
Not everyone of us are called to be prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and so on and that does not change when faith is revealed to us and given as the free gift. God created everything and knew each of us before we were born. He knows us inside and out, he knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He also knows that in each and everyone of us is born sin. It is the force that, a disease, that separates us from our true calling and our Lord and creator and the only way that it can be succumbed is by killing us. "For the wages of sin is death" is what we read in Romans 6:23, but it does not stop there for the verse ends, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Sin is what brought death and disease in this world and we will all eventually die, but when we die, for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, have eternal life. God foreknew the gifts that He gives us to do His work and His purposes, but some of those gifts are to be used beyond the work of the Church, His Holy Bride, and to be used in a world that is dying. Those gifts are given to all of His creation. Jeremiah was given a special gift, a supernatural gift, a spiritual gift of Prophecy and with this he was given discernment and knowledge and wisdom. It was a gift that pained Jeremiah greatly because he knew God's desires, he knew God's heart, he knew what the people needed to do to prevent disaster, but he also felt the wrath of their rebellion. People don't like to be told that they are doing wrong. They don't like to hear that the paths they follow are not "good". If you want to feel a little of the pain that Jeremiah felt go out into the city and try to witness in a positive way (i.e. not screaming out "Repent! The End is Near!" or "You Evil Sinners!") and tell people about what God has done for them, give them a hope in the way that they may have never heard. You will find people hungry to know and hear it, but you will find those that will fight to keep them from hearing you because you are threatening their livelihood.
The truth is that we are all sinners in need of our saviors redemptive power and that should put things in a positive perspective. As an African Lutheran Pastor once said, "We are just one beggar telling another where the food is." We aren't there to tear down people who have been downtrodden, but to show them the greater hope that is Jesus Christ. He loves everyone and He disdains the sin in each of us, but through His grace and through His Word, He redeems and renews us. That is the glorious thing because God knew us before we were born, he knows the heart that truly ticks down deep inside, but He also knows that over time our hearts become hard because of sin and just like a heart that dies because of heart attacks and damage a heart that is clogged with sin can become hard against God's Word until it spiritually dies. That is the work of those of us who believe to be proclaiming God's Word not only with our voices, but in how we live our lives. Unfortunately there are those that do this with great toxicity and that is what the world sees in the media and the news. If more of us live our lives with the centrality of God's Word being the guide of our lives, we can bear the burdens like Jeremiah, aka the Lamenting Prophet, and instead of screaming out words that do not reflect God's love we can weep and pray for those that we love that God's Word may break into their hearts and reveal God's Truth. We have a God who loves you so greatly that He entered into His own creation as His Son, Jesus, and died upon the cross to bear our sin and our shame, rose from the dead, and sent us His Holy Spirit that we may all come to know God as Lord!