The Dean - The Very Rev Andrew Nunn
Jeremiah 7.1-16; Romans 9.14-26
It’s the age old conundrum, ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’
It was a question first being asked or at least first recorded as being asked by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle in the 4th century BC who concluded that it was an infinite sequence, with no true origin.
But the two Lessons for this evening present a different conundrum to us. Were we created in the image of God or have we created God in our own image? Of course, as opposed to the chicken and the egg question there’s a relatively simple answer to this one in that we’re told in the Bible that God created us in God’s own image. But if that is the case then why do we not act more like God acts, why do we not appear more like God appears?
That was the challenge that Jeremiah presents to the people. They were paying lip service to God, that was the underlying problem and it was a problem that would persist and still persists. In that First Lesson we heard the words that Jesus quotes when he’s cleansing the Temple on arriving there on the first Palm Sunday.
‘Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight?’
The people could enter this holy place and repeat the mantra ‘The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord’ as much as they wanted but if how they were living didn’t match up to their words then it was all null and void.
And the prophet lists the things that God would want them to do and the things that they do and there was a total mismatch. If they were made in the image of God, if we are made in the image of God, then there needs to be a reflection of that reality in the choices that we make and the standards by which we live. As Jesus would say many years later
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.’
But as St Paul points out at the beginning of our Second Lesson the problem persists, when he says
‘Is there injustice on God’s part?’
That is the question, that is the accusation. God is being called unjust by the people, yet God is the God of justice.
The pagans would take a lump of clay, take a lump of stone, a piece of wood, molten metal and craft a God out of it, form the god they’d then bow down and worship. But God is the true potter who takes the clay of the earth, forms it into a likeness of the divine being and breathes life into it, man and woman, us. We are the product of the potter’s wheel and carry the divine image – but that image must go deeper than the skin, deeper than superficial words and became the essence of what we do, become the essence of who we are, become the essence of the choices we make and the standards by which we live. That is the mark of authenticity and it’s authentic living to which we’re called.
The prophet Micah gives us the answer to our questions, the simple answer to what the potter, what our maker wants of us
‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?’