The Calling of Jeremiah, Colossae, and Us

John D. Barry

Jeremiah 1:1–2:37; Colossians 1:1–14; Proverbs 10:1–32

We all have trouble accepting our calling. When God asks us to do His work, we tend to wonder whether we’re able to execute His will. We are not alone in this—the prophet Jeremiah felt the same way.

“And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came out from the womb I consecrated you; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord Yahweh! Look, I do not know how to speak, for I am a youth’ ” (Jer 1:4–6).

Jeremiah had been chosen by God before his birth, and yet he struggles. The issue at the heart of Jeremiah’s hesitancy is doubt about how it will all play out. A simple reframing of his call creates the reassurance he needs: “ ‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares Yahweh. Then Yahweh stretched out is hand and he touched my mouth, and Yahweh said to me, ‘Look, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I appoint you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant’ ” (Jer 1:8–10). After God reassures Jeremiah that He will be with him—that He will deal with all of his fears—Jeremiah is ready to be the man he’s been called to be. He goes on to become one of the greatest prophets who ever lived.

Paul takes on a similar role as God’s mouthpiece to the Colossians, reassuring them of their calling: “We give thanks always to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you, since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope reserved for you in heaven, which you have heard about beforehand in the word of truth, the gospel” (Col 1:3–5). God has called the church at Colossae, and He is now moving them toward something greater—something more like what Jesus wants for their lives.

Like Jeremiah and the church at Colossae, we must take hope in the calling God has given us. We must reconcile ourselves to His work in our life. We must realize that He will give us what we are lacking, whether resources, confidence, or skill.

What do you fear? What do you need God to provide so you can better do His work? How should you go about acquiring this?


John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.