Summary: Even when we are faced with struggles in our Christian faith, God assures us of his presence and his movement in our lives and world. He also invites us to look beyond our struggles and involve ourselves in the ministry of spreading the kingdom
Matthew 11:2-11 “Be Prepared—Serve”
2007 has been a year full of surprises—both good and bad. I was reminded of this when a member of Desert Streams sent me an E-mail that contain this thought, “I have noticed that as a group we have faced many challenges of late—roadblocks to our happiness tossed in our path. But despite it all, we are a happy lot, with a common goal.”
As I worked with this passage, I thought that these roadblocks that we have experienced bond us to John the Baptist, who in this passage is languishing in a prison cell wondering if Jesus is really who John thought he was. This was a difficult time for John, yet in the midst of his struggles and questions he hears a word of grace and hope.
Jesus Christ has come so that we might be free. When Jesus Christ frees us, we are truly free. The problem is that sometimes we feel more like John sitting in a prison. We are shackled and imprisoned, and we can’t see any path of escape.
Though we have attempted to live freely, we find ourselves imprisoned by our failures.
• We have sensed God’s call upon us, and we have tried to follow the path that God has called us to walk, but things didn’t go the way we expected. Our grand plans did not amount to anything.
• We feel that we are failures at our work, in our families, and in other areas of our lives.
We are imprisoned by our fears.
• We fear failure, so we don’t try.
• Life scares us, or at least parts of it, and we hide from it.
We are shackled to our sins.
• We can’t turn away from our selfishness and self-centeredness.
• We can’t seem to break loose of the habits, compulsions, addictions, and desires that keep us from leading righteous, obedient lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Like John we struggle with disappointments and despair.
Sometimes we are disappointed that Jesus doesn’t do what we expect or want him to do. John was disappointed that Jesus wasn’t more judgmental, and that he didn’t preach more hell, fire and brimstone.
We are disappointed because we forget whose will it is that’s supposed to be established. We at times act like football players who occasionally run off the field and tell the coach what plays he should call and what he should do. The coach nods and we think that he understand and agrees with us, but when we run back onto the field the coach doesn’t call the play that we thought he should.
We struggle understanding that our life of faith is not so that God does what we want him to do—if we only believe. Rather, a life of faith is to boldly and obediently follow God’s guidance and direction in our lives—to do what God wants us to do.
A WORD OF GRACED
John sends his disciples to Jesus in order to get some straight answers to the question burning his John’s soul—“Is Jesus really the Messiah—the Son of God?”
Jesus tells them to look around and see what is happening. God is on the move. People are being reached and their lives are being changed. The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news preached to them. Even though John is imprisoned and disappointed, God is moving. Jesus is doing what God called him to do.
This advent season may find us less then celebratory. We may be struggling in many ways and we may not be living out the freedom and power that is ours as disciples of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of our imprisonments and disappointments, God assures us that God kingdom is being established. God also invites us to participate in his kingdom by taking up the ministry of Jesus—serving others and sharing the good news.
There is a world around us that needs us, and God is with us.