Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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One of my most difficult relationships involved a woman whom I’ll call Irina. We met when I started attending a Seventh-day Adventist church in Moscow nearly ten years ago. Irina was a divorced Russian mother of two and about the same age as I was.

We became fairly good friends, enjoying the occasional Sabbath afternoon together and phone conversations during the week. Then Irina left town for a few months. When I saw her again, she told me that she would never step into an Adventist church again. She had decided to adopt the dominant Russian religion, Orthodoxy, and she said that we could not remain friends if I didn’t renounce the Adventist faith.

Irina was not happy over my decision to remain faithful in my church attendance, but for some reason she still called me regularly to discuss life. I felt saddened as she dismissed biblical doctrines and embraced a mixture of Russian Orthodox traditions and practices. She never sought my advice in her life, so I just listened. Then one day she said: “Andy, I have so many problems. I’m having trouble disciplining my son. I can’t hold onto a steady job. Am I a bad mother? Have I made some mistake in my life?”

What would you say? In reality, Irina’s life was falling apart because she had separated herself from God. But she didn’t want to hear that. She only wanted soothing reassurances that she was a good person.

Jeremiah faced a similar problem with Israel. God wanted him to warn the people of famine and destruction of they didn’t repent. The people, however, preferred to listen to false prophets who offered pleasant promises of peace.

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’ — ‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them — them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters — for I will pour their wickedness on them.’” (14:15, 16)

God doesn’t look kindly on those who wrongly promise peace to the wicked. As difficult as it might seem sometimes, we must stand for Jesus and the truth and not be afraid to point others to Jesus.

Prayer: “Dear God, I need Your grace and tact today. Help me to never offer promises of peace to someone who is perishing in willful sin. Instead, give me the words, the wisdom and the love to point them to You and Your saving mercy. Amen.”

Andrew McChesney
Journalist in Russia.