The ancient Hebrew prophet was enticed (Jeremiah 20:7). It was not something he likely would have concocted himself, but to use his own words: “There is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” So his conscience dictated, and it often led to less-than-pleasant personal consequences.
What Jeremiah felt impelled, or enticed, to do was to call the political authorities to account for their misdeeds and lack of compassion in pursuit of personal gain. He proclaimed publicly of the power structures: “They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. From the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” One might guess that this is not the preferred method to curry favor with those in charge.
Self-aggrandizement and greed seem to be occupational hazards inherent in positions of power and authority. History reveals that what Jeremiah faced was not unique to his time and place. The 19th century British parliamentarian, John Dalberg-Acton, voiced the oft-quoted line: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Jeremiahs are needed . . . then and now. If you and I don’t stand up and speak up for the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized, who will? Doing so can easily result in scorn, and perhaps even some amount of personal loss if justice for all is championed and effected. It is a matter of doing the right thing . . . of having compassionate concern for all people instead of just my self-interest.
The enticement to speak up and work for justice can come in various ways from a variety of sources. We can either heed the call with action . . . or hold back our voices as we sink into the comfortable cocoons of the economic and political security we already possess.