Let us pray: Dear Savior, how quick we are to try to attempt to pick out the splinter in our neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in our own eye. How quick we are to embrace You when our will is done, but to walk away from You when Your will is done in our lives. Today teach us to be humble and accepting of Your plan for our lives, even though we often cannot understand it. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE MIRACLE WORKER WHO HAS COME TO SAVE YOU!
TEXT: Luke 4: 20-32
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I have a confession to make. The other night I actually watched “American Idol.” In the past I have channel surfed through some of the acts, but never really watched an entire show. But it was cold outside. I was tired and didn’t want to get up and do anything else. So, I vegged out and watched the show. It struck me as sad. It made me wonder about some people’s sanity. Are some people who obviously cannot carry a tune in a bushel basket that clueless as to their lack of talent? Do they have such low self esteem that they enjoy making fools of themselves? I was especially struck by the rejected contestants who tried through tears, cajoling, and confrontation to make the panelists accept their awful performances. Of course, their feeble attempts at being puppeteers, making the panelists dance to their tune, fell on deaf ears. And it got me thinking about how we often attempt to do the same thing to God. So, today let’s consider all this under the theme:
THE FOLLY OF TRYING TO TURN CHRIST INTO YOUR PUPPET
Remember when you first read or heard this text? Remember your reaction? I remember mine. For many years I just shook my head in amazement at the stupidity and down-right meanness of Christ’s hometown crowd. How could they act in such a nasty way? How could they turn on Him so quickly? He had grown up among them. They knew Him intimately. They were His friends. They should have embraced Him. But, no, instead they get violent and even attempt to kill Him by taking Him outside Nazareth and hurling Him off the 300 foot cliff that is still there! How sad and awful it all is. Their spiritual blindness lead them to charge Christ with blasphemy and inflict capital punishment for it—even though He was the Son of God.
I remember putting myself in their shoes. If I had been there, I won’t have reacted like that! That’s what I thought. But, upon reflection, all of us act like that on occasion. It’s true! They tried to turn Jesus into their puppet and make His will conform to their own, otherwise—“He’s out of here!” Unfortunately, sometimes we do the same thing without really thinking about it. We let our emotions and our limited knowledge about God’s plan for our lives turn us into angry puppeteers who get mad when Jesus doesn’t dance to our tune.
Jesus had gone to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day. The hommies crowded the place. After all, their hometown boy had made good. He was out preaching, drawing crowds, and doing miracles which they had heard about. “What would He say? What would He do for them? How would He titillate them?” During the service He picks up the Isaiah scroll and reads a prophecy about the Messiah from it. They knew this prophecy well. It had sustained them under the iron fist of Roman rule. Then He said to them: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” They’re amazed and intrigued by it all. “Joseph’s son said this?” Then He reads their minds and addresses what they are thinking. “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician heal yourself! Do here in your hometown (miracles) what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” But Christ then speaks hard words of truth about their attempts at controlling Him and His work. He speaks of the ancient story of how the outsider Namaan, the Syrian, was cleansed of leprosy by Elisha and of how Elijah saved the widow of Zarephath with a miracle instead of doing it in Israel. Well, the people are incensed over this. “How could He insult us in this way? Why doesn’t He treat us, His boyhood friends, better than He treats strangers? Why doesn’t He dance to our tune, after all, He owes us!” They reject His Godly power, refuse to be humble before Him, and then seek to kill Him. Of course, Jesus then shows His power by passing right through the crowd unscathed. But this miracle didn’t register because they were all so filled with arrogant pride that it blinded them to it.
Now it is true that unbelievers view God as a rabbit’s foot. That is, as long as He seems to shape their lives in the exact way they want them to go they pay Him lip-service. But when things go differently, they quickly hurl Him aside and mock Him. Unfortunately, I believe many believers sometimes engage in the same behavior.
Think about it. If you have a good week where things go smoothly you say to yourself: “Yup, God is blessing me.” But when you have a bad week and things don’t go smoothly, have you ever said in your heart of hearts: “God, how could You do this? What have I done to deserve it? Don’t you love me anymore?” Then we sometimes try to make a deal with God.—“I’ll follow You and trust You, if, if, you do such and such for me just this once. Get me out of that traffic ticket, help me pass the test I never studied for, let me win the lottery to pay those credit card bills I so foolishly ran up.” Of course, that “just once” commitment is quickly forgotten when another crisis ensues.
The fact is: it is pure folly to try to turn Christ into your personal puppet. He’s not our puppet. We don’t control Him. We are merely humble recipients of His kindness and favor. We should be honored by Him giving up His life on a cross to save our own. We should be awed that He made peace between us and God with His precious blood. We should be thankful for His rising from the grave in order to provide us with eternal hope—even in the face of death.
True faith is really letting God be God and not our personal puppet. True faith, saving faith, is rejoicing over each day He gives us—no matter how good, or bad, that day might be. True faith is saying from the heart what that poor widow said to Christ: “Yes, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” True faith is living the words of our hymn: “What God ordains is always good” and not trying to second-guess Him. And when we live that way, it is liberating! For we know that our Savior is gracious and in the end “all things work for good to those who love Him.” No fear. No anger. No sadness there. Let go of your wanting to control everything and let God be God, not your puppet. After all, He really does know more than you do….Amen