Ezekiel 2:5-7 “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious house–they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.”
I would dare say there are many pastors around the world in need of this Word! Even the most dedicated servant of God tends to fear people and their reactions, simply because they so desire for people to receive the Word of the Lord that they speak. To Ezekiel, God made it very clear that the responsibility of the messenger is to deliver the message; the response is the responsibility of those who receive it. In Chapter 3 and again in Chapter 33 God is even stronger on this point, which should really light a fire under anyone who is aware of their calling to communicate the Word of the Lord. The difficulty is that methods of delivery indeed affect the outcome, and we are not to ignore social and cultural contexts. Having said that, it is still true that most preachers fear rejection, and that all too often makes them draw back from expressing what God has laid on their hearts. In contrast, Jesus didn’t hesitate to deliver messages that drove people away from Him, and He even challenged His 12 closest disciples as to whether they would leave too. (John 6:61-69)
This is a very appropriate message for me as well, because I have had many people leave over the years of my ministry, and I don’t like it! Nevertheless, I must always speak the truth in love, however people respond or don’t respond, and release them and their responses into God’s hands. If they receive the Word well, I am to rejoice for them and with them, but not take any personal credit. If they reject the Word it is appropriate to mourn, but I am not to berate myself over it. In short, I am not to fear their words, just as this passage says. Sometimes the image of briars and thistles, and even scorpions, seems all too apt, but I am to keep my eyes on Christ and my trust in Him, and fear nothing else.
Father, thank You for Your plans for me and for this church, and that they will be fulfilled. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in that assurance, regardless of whatever might be happening at the moment. Thank You for the many ways You encourage me, and for the warm response of many. Help me not listen to the lies of the enemy, but be strong in You and Your presence in me, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!