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Summary: Mature Christian faith moves beyond a Santa Claus God, who lives to serve us, to a God who calls us to discipleship and faith.

Luke 4:21-30 (quickview)  “Beyond a Comfortable Faith”

INTRODUCTION

After the State of the Union address by President Bush, the pollsters were out trying to get his job approval rating. The latest figures are in and now only 28% approve of the way President Bush is doing his job. Bush low approval rating equals that of President Nixon (not necessarily the president you want to emulate). This is down from just two years ago, when he had one of the highest approval ratings of any President, 68%. The public is fickle quickly moving from one extreme to another.

Jesus found this to be true in his home town of Nazareth. We start this story with people speaking well of Jesus and amazed at what he said and did. By the end of the story they want to kill him.

Being a President or a prophet are certainly difficult tasks.

GOOD NEWS

The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is very appealing.

• God loves us so much that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.

• Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of our Sin and sins.

• Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have a renewed relationship with God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is life-changing and empowering. It is filled with good news.

Often we take the good news of the gospel and reach broad conclusions that God is always on our side, and that God lives to serve us and to answer our prayers.

BAD NEWS

Jesus spoke not only good news to the people of his hometown on that Sabbath Day, he also spoke words at which they took offense. He told them that there would be no miracles in Nazareth—Nazareth was not number one on his list. Adding insult upon insult, Jesus also told them that he would perform miracles for the Gentiles. The people were furious.

All of us can understand the fury of the crowd, though. We too have become angry at God because God did not do what we wanted God to do, or God allowed tragedy in to our lives.

• Tragedy entered my life when me son was diagnosed with cancer.

• Tragedy recently entered my friend’s lives who were told that Joyful Promise and New Creation mission congregations would need to be closed.

• It doesn’t take us long to remember a tragedy in our lives.

God allowed our anger and frustration to build by being hidden and silent for much of the time of our tragedy.

We struggle with why bad things happen to good people. We begin to believe that faith and religion don’t work.

God has the ability to use tragedies to draw us closer to him. Sadly, however, they also have the ability to drive us away from God.

BEST NEWS

When tragedy strikes and things quickly go beyond our control, we can give up trying to be in control. We can acknowledge that God is in control and holds us in his hands. We can rest in that thought and truth.

We can live in the reality that God wants the very best for us. An abundant life is ours, but that is a life lived with God and not defined by the expectations of society.

Our image of God can expand beyond a cosmic Santa Clause that lives to answer our prayer, to that of Lord and King, whose will we are called to faithfully and obediently follow.


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